Step away from the plying head.

I have to admit a dirty little secret. It's bad. You might want to cover the ears of younger children. Okay, and the ears of a few elderly folks. I'm quite ashamed to admit this to all of you... but here goes -

I can't stop plying.

I used to be crazy for batts. I loved separating them out by color (almost in an OCD way) so spin up stripey singles. I love the drape of a single, I loved knitting with singles, and I adored the color changes. During my stocking up of batts, I purchased roving/combed top here and there but spun that up as singles also. Occasionally I'd sneak a plied (with itself) yarn in there, but not often. If I did ply, it was usually big, slubby yarns on thread.

Then a knit a long on Ravelry caught my attention. The pattern was called "Toasts" and people were using their plied yarns spun from Funky Carolina wool. I was mesmerized by the way the plied yarns knit up. The colors were undefined yet defined, all at the same time. They were organic, a kaleidoscope of colors, and I had to try them myself. I spun up some plied yarn, knit up the toasts, and fell in love.

Since the "Toasts" project in November, I've really only been spinning plied yarns. Okay, I lie, I spun a singles last week, but other than that, I've been plying.

It's shameful, really, the amount of plying I do. Poor fluffy, lovely, colorful batts. They sit, unused, waiting to be spun. Soon, my friends, soon. But for right now, I ply.


I'll take my snow day

You Northerners are welcome to your mild summers, this Southerner will take her snow day. I hate to start a blog post off with a rant, but I have to put it on the record - I am SICK and TIRED of people (some locals, some not) poking fun at those of us who use 7 inches of snow as an excuse to have a snow day. I'm sorry if our snow day offends anyone, but I'm just not so over zealous that I'm going to head out into this.

This Southerner isn't planning on sweeping 7 inches of snow off her car only to be left with about an inch of ice to attempt to chisel through (before giving up and claiming that a jack hammer might be a better tool) so that I can go to work. Call me a wimp but I do believe the world can survive without my smiling face and sarcastic bite the one day I plan to stay inside, in my fleece pants and holey, long sleeved t-shirt. This Southerner isn't planning on fishtailing my way down the freeway praying that the huge semi creeping up on my backside will back off just to keep the local economy going for a couple of days. I'm thinking the frantic trip to Wal-Mart I took before the storm came in will sustain said economy. This Southerner just doesn't care if you displaced Northerners are either too proud to admit you love living in the South because of the occassional snow day or are too jealous (if you don't live here) to let us enjoy it without being mocked.

I will say that this Southerner will spend hours in the front yard in the middle of summer, when it's 98 degrees outside, digging in her garden without feeling faint. I'll also spend hours sitting in the sun at a July farmer's market without complaining of the heat wave. This Southerner certainly won't make fun of those up North who can't survive that kind of weather. I'll just understand you aren't used to it.

All this to say, those of you up North can certainly plow their way to work when they want to, but don't make fun of this Southerner if I decide to let my car stay buried in the snow while I sip hot cocoa with my feet up when I would normally be at work.

Just what did this Southerner do during the recent snow days? I might have spun some yarn, but I also might have spent many hours watching House on DVD and make a good dent in my unwatched movie collection. Hey, I can't always be creative. Sometimes I have to sit back and enjoy the creative work of others. I hope those of you who got some snow this week had a nice break from the everyday and for those of you who didn't, I'm sorry.


We're gettin' all doomsday up in here.

It's as if the end of the world is going to happen at 2:46PM tomorrow. Yes, at 2:46PM in Northwest Arkansas we might get some ice or snow and guys, let me tell you, it's the end of the world. I think the local population, in general, is just freaked out after last year's doomsday. We were without power for many, many days. Roads were blocked for just as many days (as you can see from the picture above - you couldn't drive down neighborhood streets). It was cold, trees were falling, branches were falling and it looked/felt/sounded like a war zone outside. Yes, that could cause some general freaking out. We'll call it post traumatic stress disorder because that makes it sound more legit.

PTSD makes it okay to go to Wal-Mart with 1,000s of other people and stock up on months worth of peanut butter, bread, and chili ingredients. PTSD makes it okay to spend tons of money on generators and chain saws (wouldn't it be better to just be blocked in by fallen trees and not be able to get to work for a few?) just in case you need them. PTSD makes it okay for me to restock my liquor cabinet... you know... just in case my highball glass looks lonely in the event of bad weather.

I'm not sold on the impending weather of doom. Weather is fickle. Weather likes to trick those of us in this area. It likes to get us all excited about snow, freaked out about tornadoes, and looking forward to warmer days and instead it does the complete opposite of all of those things (which, in the case of the tornado is a good thing). If ice starts falling from the sky tomorrow, then I'll believe it. Until then, we shall see.


Stop staring at my quilt sandwich!

I'm betting money that many of you didn't think I'd get this far. You thought I'd go, buy some batting, and realize it's FAR too much work to try and lay out the backing, spread out the batting, re-smooth the backing from under the batting, straighten the batting back out, go fix that corner on the backing, wait - the batting is messed up again... and some more of that until eventually I could place the quilt top over it all, smooth it out, spread it out, smoosh it out, line it up, make it even and pin it into place. Yup, I bet that some of you lost money when you saw the above picture. That is indeed a quilt sandwich held in place with some basic machine stitching.

Sorry, that's what you get for betting against me. I can be determined when I want to be, very determined.

Over the past two evenings, I believe I've burned at least 700 calories alone in sandwiching the layers, pinning them and sewing them together. Maybe I'd expend less energy if I had a table large enough for this process, but I don't. The floor is my best option for workspace (swept free of cat hair of course). Up and down I go, onto my knees, crawling around on my elbows with pins in my mouth. It's a site to see and I'm sorry you missed it. It was well worth the entertainment.

I machine stitched the quilting process along the seams of each of the fat quarters. Weak? Maybe. Soft and fluffy? Definitely. Hand quilting would give it that old world, vintage, I'm a better quilter than you are look, but I'm not going for that look. I'm going for soft, cuddly, and ready to throw on the couch before the ice storm hits on Thursday. I might not even go for that look on my 2nd and 3rd quilts because these quilts are for me and I'm so happy with them, machine quilting and all.

Maybe by my 4th quilt I'll pull out the big guns and hoop it up on the couch stitching away for weeks, months, years... maybe.

But I doubt it. I'm a product knitter, why wouldn't I be a product quilter?

Discuss and until next time...


I do follow through

Today was a day of finishing projects that have been sitting around for well over a year or starting new ones so they don't sit around for a year waiting to be touched. While going through more corners, drawers and boxes, I happened upon a stack of t-shirts. At first I gazed upon them in confusion. Why did I keep these? They have no meaning to... ahhh... t-shirt bags. I remember now. I had all kinds of good intentions (before my mom got sick) to make these into market bags. Then the year of all things craptacular began and projects like that just didn't get finished.

Well, it's a new year and it's time to finish this project. In fact, I needed to finish this project before moving any further on cleaning, organizing, new projects, spinning yarn, making jewelry, breathing, eating... you get the picture. So out came the sewing machine and I went to work. The end result is a pile of 7 new t-shirt bags. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them as I already have a pile of market/shopping bags, but at least the project is done. Gifts perhaps? Yes, perhaps. See - piles upon piles of t-shirt bags.
Since the sewing machine was out, I figured I might as well start on my blanket top. After a couple of hours, 16 fat quarters had been pinned, sewn, resewn to even them up, and all put together to form my first blanket top. I'm beyond pleased with the project so far. If Hobby Lobby was open at 8:22 PM on a Saturday, I'd run off for batting so I could finish this blanket. However, they aren't, so this project is on hold until I can get the rest of the supplies. Eventually there will be 2 blankets. This one (seen above) in oranges, greens and golds and another one in reds, blacks, creams and charcoal. They are replacing my fleece blankets because adults don't need fleece blankets, adults need quilts.

Oh! I also baked bread today. I'm kind of spectacular like that.


Everything is on sale!

I'm feeling like Idyll Hands, my first love, needs a fresh new face. I've had the jewelry shop open on Etsy since September of 2007 and while changes have happened (branding, photography skills, style), it has not undergone a major change... ever. I've decided to shut the shop town temporarily, while I put some thought into what I want Idyll Hands to look like and offer.

Before shutting it down for a grand remodel, I thought perhaps a sale was in order. I haven't had a proper sale in the shop since July and it's about time. So if you're a fan of jewelry, or know someone who is, head over to IdyllHands and check out the sale details. I promise it's a great deal!

Go shop here!


More on the topic of purging

I may have seemed a bit snobbish in my last post so let me be the first to apologize. I in no way was trying to belittle those of you out there with kids at home, or elderly parents you're taking care of at home, etc. I was speaking to those who stand in awe at my finding time to do something other than work, eat and sleep. You know who you are. You aren't the ones playing mommy at night, or daddy or 2 job bread winner... well, you get the picture. I am just worried that I came off a bit harsh.

I'm well into week 2 of the big purge. Tonight I went through my clothes boxes that live under my guest bed. I managed to only put back 4 of the 6 I had and 1 of them is just full of t-shirts I want to make into a t-shirt quilt. This purging thing is easy and boy do I feel better when I'm finished with a task. I've got a HUGE pile of clothes that I either don't like anymore or are just ill-fitting or out of style. They are either getting sold or donated. Ah, feels good... feels really good.

My next project is an easy, sit on the couch kind of project. I'm going to go through my photographs from high school and college. I'm sure I have a ton that I don't really care to keep and no reason to tote them around and store them. For one, photos are heavy as sin and two, they take up drawers in my guest room I could be using for wool - WAIT - did I say wool? God knows I don't need more wool.

But wool will probably go in those drawers.

I need to be honest with myself.

My wool stash will grow.

It's gonna happen.

I'll never purge my wool.

I haven't decided what my next purging project will be after the photos... perhaps kitchen stuff? Maybe pantry items I'm never going to consume? No reason to force it, it will come to me.

I just thought you might want an update since I so proudly announced my Christmas decor purge last week.

In between all of this cleaning and purging, I am finding time for spinning. I listed quite a few new yarns in my shop this past weekend and have another basket full ready to get photographed and go into the shop this weekend. I'm amazed at every yarn I create. While it's the same thing over and over, spinning and spinning, treadling and treadling - each yarn is different. Each yarn is fun, unique, and beautiful. I'm not sure I'll ever get tired of spinning.

And did I already mention I'll never purge my wool? I think I did.


Me Time

If you consider the fact that I have a 40-50 hour a week "career" job, run an Etsy street team, keep up with 2 blogs, spin yarn, dye and card fibers and make jewelry for 2 Etsy shops then you'd be pretty darned impressed at how I manage to find time to do other things. I know, I know, what other things are there in life? Well, eating, for one. Oh, and sleeping, that's important too.

Okay, okay, eating and sleeping could be considered as mandatory. However, painting vintage metal shelves for my growing creamer and sugar collection, pieceing blanket tops and filing taxes without the help of an accountant are all things I've managed to carve out time for. See, it can be done.

I'm often amazed at people who just don't have time for hobbies. We all know these people. Heck, I work with quite a few of them. They work during the day and when they see me with my hobby at nights and weekends, they are blown away that I would have time to do something for me. I'm just a bit confused. Where does the extra time these friends and coworkers have go? Do they give it away for a gift? Do they think it has a stink and it gets thrown away? I'm just baffled. We all have 24 hours in a day, right? I know it's not sleep that takes up their time. I'm the queen of sleep and probably get WAY more sleep than the average person. I don't think it's cleaning their houses (I've seen some of their houses, it's definately not cleaning their houses). They profess not to watch TV so either they are lieing to sound intellectual or they don't watch TV because they go into a coma when they get home.

So what is it? Are people afraid to find time to have hobbies? Do people complain that they don't have time for hobbies because they aren't creative enough to come up with some? Here is my plea - people of the world, find 30 minutes a day to take for yourself and do something just for you. Go outside and clean out a flower bed in preparation for spring planting, learn a new recipe, dust off those piano keys and give the ivories a tickle. I know you want to.

But please, please quit looking amazed when you discover that I have time for me.


I Fell Down the Rabbit Hole

I've gone mad... mad for fabric. I'm not sure what I'll do about it and I really don't think I have time for such nonsense. The last thing I need is another crafty hobby... right? Someone please stage an intervention.

A couple of years ago at a fiber festival, I was introduced to Rabbits Lair. It's a fabric/quilting shop located in downtown Rogers at the CUTEST old bank in the world. After a visit there last year with my mom, I fell in love. The fabric was floor to ceiling, the fat quarter were plentiful and the walls are lined with quilts that will blow your mind. It was that day that I thought I could one day be a quilter.

Since then I've lusted after quilts in Flickr sets, I've scoured websites for quilting patterns that looks easy enough to learn with but still had end results that wowed, and I've stalked Etsy shops with fabric that I had to have in my collection. However, it wasn't until yesterday morning that I fell down the rabbit hole.

It really was an ugly scene. I took my sister and niece along because if you're doing it in groups, it's a social thing and not really some kind of "ism" - fat quarterism? Is that something I need to seek help for? I spent 2 hours walking around the shop. I added fat quarter upon fat quarter to my shopping back. I grabbed bolts of fabric off the shelves and had them cut just for me. I skipped around huging my new fabrics with glee and growled at those who were reaching for ones that I just had to add to my growing collection. It was an ugly, ugly scene.

I managed to make it out of there with enough quarters for 2 blankets and other fabric for a duvet cover... okay, okay and jelly rolls for more quilting projects. It kind of hurts to think about... a little. A stop at Hobby Lobby on the way home for thread and I'm ready to piece together my blanket tops. I'm not yet going to say quilt tops as I'm not going to quilt these together, but oh, they will be lovely. Big blocks of colors and patterns that make my tail wag. I'll be cuddled on the couch with my new blankets in high style and hopefully within the next two weeks. I will not let this new hobby sit in bags, I will become the blanket from fat quarters master!


Who put all of this stuff in my basement?

The recent kidnapping by "whatever comes after life on earth" of my mom has left me realizing that humans leave this earth very light compared to how they lived on this earth. We have too much stuff. We have shelves upon shelves of books, stacks and stacks of boxes full of papers, bins full of meaningless keepsakes and bins full of meaningful keepsakes. We have nooks of antiques, cabinets of vintage collectibles, closets of clothes and racks of shoes. Our kitchen cabinets are full of enough dishes for a small army and hutches packed with enough cookware for the White House. Folks, we really have too much stuff.

I've been bringing a few things home from my moms. I've brought home things that remind me of her, things that remind me of her house (since we'll be selling it - unless a really nice person, or insurance policy, shows up ready to write a check). I've also brought home a few useful things. By useful I mean things I'm going to use right now, not things to pack away until I have room. The addition or more stuff to my already full house has left me ready to purge.

It's time to rid my life and my storage spaces of things that are meaningless. I don't care if it's really cool and I might use it in 2 years, if I don't have great memories associated with it and it's not getting used, it's going out the door. I'm in no way going through my house trashing stuff, but when I clean up a pile, I put forth a huge effort to divide the pile into keep, trash or sell and hopefully my keep pile is smaller than the other two combined.

Last week I tackled my office floor (yes floor - don't you judge me for my choice of storage places) and this week it's Christmas decor. I started with 5 large storage bins and a small ornament organizer this season. I refuse to put all of that back in the basement. Seeing as how I didn't even put all of it out this year, it is silly to keep it all stored away. While I didn't get rid of as much as I thought I would, I did pair down to 4 bins and my ornament box. OH, and one of the bins is only half full. Now that is something! If I can do this with all of my stuff - out of season clothes, extra bedding, keepsakes from college, and kitchenware I don't have room for, I'll be many, many pounds lighter.

I think it's a start, a good start.


Fitting the Mold


I'm Erin.

I shop at The Gap, love khaki pants, wear dress shoes to work, drive a Honda, eat processed foods, shop at Wal-Mart, don't wear vintage clothes, don't have bangs, am not a member of the local roller-derby, consider myself an artist (and will say so instead of dodging the question by sounding thoughtful about what an artist really is and how that just isn't me), listen to mainstream music like Dave Matthews Band or Five for Fighting or John Meyer or Jason Mraz, and don't consider my long term boyfriend my "partner" or "partner in crime" (we'll be married someday, right now he's just that - my boyfriend, oh, and crime would indicate that maybe the authorities are after us and that's not a good idea).

As you all know by now, I sell my yarn, spinning fibers and jewelry on Etsy. However, I'm afraid I don't fit the Etsy mold. I worry that because I don't look like "Etsy" when you see me at a craft show that I'll never be interviewed by Etsy. I'll never be featured because during the day I book events at Walton Arts Center at an 8 - 5 job so I don't get to put cool things like "walk by the local creek while coming up with new conceptual ideas for my shop" in a list of daily activities because it's dark when I leave for work and it's dark when I get home from work. I fear that I will never catch the eye of Etsy because I eat corndogs from my freezer (yes, the Wal-Mart brand) instead of shopping all day at Whole Foods or harvesting my veggies from my huge garden behind my house in a pituresque part of the country (I have a drive way and a huge slab of concrete behind my house). Am I too white bread for Etsy?

I don't think so. Oh, I know I'm generalizing what Etsy is. SO many artists on Etsy are not the vintage wearing, mary jane sporting, looking cute in their blunt cut bangs, able to roller skate and gets to go flea marketing twice a week kind of peeps, but a lot are. What sticks out to me about Etsy features, articles, interviews, etc are those people and I'm not those people.

What I am is someone who really connects with all kinds of people. I'm the best friend from high school, the band nerd, the person who can sell a funky yarn to the girl wearing the skirt over the jeans with the vintage glasses but also the girl who can sell some classy yarn to the 78 year old grandma visiting with her family at the local Farmer's Market. I'm middle ground. I can hang with the hipsters or I can talk band camp stories with the non-hipsters (and it's great if I can combine the two). I can be laid back with my spinning wheel dreaming of dyeing my hair pink on the weekends but also be found at a business meeting throwing the next big idea out there about how to raise an extra $100,000 on client events in a year.

I am Etsy... but I'm not Etsy.

Go figure that one out.

Oh, and once again, I will never be too important to say that I'm an artist and leave it at that. I don't need to create a person that I'm not just because I think someone in Portland, OR will read my interview and think I'm totally cool and that we should hang out sometime. I am who I am and I'm not afraid to put that down on paper. I dare someone to interview me - as white bread as I am.


All Things New

I figure that last night was a good a night as any to update my blog appearance. I've been drawn to blogs with white backgrounds lately so I thought I'd try it out. I also updated my banner last night and I'm kind of in love with it.

Next up, buttons at the right instead of the widgits I have.


It's a Start

I've found myself dragging my feet in listing new items in my Etsy shops since, well, since my last update. The Holidays found me lounging on the couch and not really doing the spinning and mass dyeing I though I would. I did manage to squeeze a day of dyeing in this past weekend and really I couldn't be happier with the outcome.

The colors are all vibrant, the fibers soft, and it was the first time I've handpainted fiber in months. I had a blast, but I'm out of wool suitable for this process. Sure sure, I could easily go online and purchase more but I'm tired of purchasing overpriced wool. I'm ready to go wholesale but that comes with strings, many strings attached. First, I would need a tax resale license/permit. This should be easy... right? Wrong. This takes talent and mad skills, both of which I thankfully still have a bit of. I'm many forms and documents closer to having this but I feel like I'm still forever and a day away from getting that darned permit.

Good things come to those who wait... right?

In the mean time, I'll dye mill ends. I'll survive.

I blogged over at the AREtsy blog about New Year's Resolutions today. No, not the dieting, walk more, spend less, clean everyday kind of resolutions, but goals for businesses (spefically Etsy businesses). Perhaps my blogging about that was a bit hypocritcal as I haven't really sat down and taken the time to come up with any of my own. I suppose today is a good day to do that.

1. Advertise more (which would mean advertise... period) - I'm already one step closer to this goal. I purchased a banner spot on Ravelry today. It goes up on February 1 and all I need to do is create a banner.
2. Work smarter, not harder. Ohhhh, I hate that phrase but it's such a good phrase. I started that this weekend by dyeing two batches of fiber in each colorway I played with instead of just one. This saves time because I don't have to mix a ton of different dyes and hopefully it will satisfy those customers who want more fiber in one colorway.
3. Stick to the branding for each shop that I came up with in 2009. DO IT. DON'T STRAY. We'll see if I can stick to this. Creative minds go all over the place so this might be difficult.
4. Be creative at least 5 days a week. This ones easy - I CAN do this... just after I watch that new... NO, I CAN do this.
5. Make setting up at craft shows 75% easier than it has been in the past. This might mean paying for a tent instead of bringing my own, but that will leave more time and more room in the car for setting up the good stuff.

That's my list for now. I might/will probably add to it as time goes on but it's a good start.

So what are your New Years Resolutions?


All Good Things

My 2 weeks of bliss is coming to a close. It's been wonderful having 2 weeks to rest, relax, enjoy my time without getting out of my PJs and to just unwind. I thought I would have been refreshed and ready to head back to the office by tomorrow, but I don't feel that I am. I'm hoping getting back to the office actually helps, but I'm not sure it will.

I watched the last episode of House, Season 3 this evening. The topic seemed to be learning all you can at one place and knowing when it's time to move on. I'm not saying that I'm in the same situation, but I'm wondering if I'm getting there. My day job used to provide me with things to learn, almost daily. It was creative, busy, and left me feeling like I did something that benefits someone else. However, lately it has felt like I'm just doing the same thing every day and I can only help someone if asked (managing our main calendar and booking client events) where as I used to be there specifically to help people (planning special events, overseeing artist hospitality, etc). I want to get back to feeling like I used to but I'm just not sure how to do that. I'll bring it up with my boss... that's a start I suppose.

Other than thinking about work today, I've spent the day dyeing some fiber, enjoying the snow outside my windows (seen above) and thinking about what I want 2010 to bring for my business. Each day that passes is a day that I'm closer to deciding to move my jewelry off of the internet and just do that locally/in person. It does very well in person and moves very slowly online. It takes a TON of energy to keep up with two shops and I'd rather focus on my fiber. I'm not sure if this is the path I'll take, but it's on my mind. I want to put tons of energy into Woolyhands and make it the side business that could one day be my main business. I'm having trouble figuring out how to do that while messing with Idyllhands. We'll see what the next couple of months brings with that. I might decide to continue on with both... but only time will tell.

Oh, I hand painted tons of wool top today (Corriedale and BFL). It's lovely stuff. I hadn't done that since this summer and it felt good to be creative like that. I can't wait to get the pictures taken and list the fiber in my shop. A new year brings new fibers.