Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kitty Close Ups

I just had to show off the cute pictures I took of our kitties the other day. The first kitty is my new baby Dexter. He is now a year old and still a curious non stop playing kitty who follows Victoria around everywhere.

Victoria wanted to call Dexter her baby and I told her she could only call him her baby if she was willing to help look after him. She has been filling his dried food when they need it so can now call him her baby. She loves helping to take care of him.

Its such hard work being so cute so he has to make sure to get plenty of beauty rest.

This is Ringo. He is 5 years old and we have had him for 4 years. This is Megan's baby. He was born without a tail, a Manx cat. For some reason his lack of tail seems to freak people out at first. We are just use to it. Ringo is Joe's favourite kitty. He even told me the other day that there is no better cat than Ringo. He just hangs out, sleeps and snuggles and never gets into any mischief.

Ringo is having a bit of a hard time with the new kitty. He just likes to chill out and relax and Dexter enjoys messing with him. They wrestle around alot and he hisses when he just wants him to leave him alone. I dont think they are really fighting, just play fighting because they have never scratched or injured each other. Ringo is alot bigger and has claws and hasnt done any damage which he could do if he wanted. I think eventually they will get along its just taking a while. I have seen Ringo licking Dexter which is a good sign right?

Ringo has such a cute little nose. It actually changes colour. When he is warm its nice and pink. When he is cold it turns white so we know when he needs a good cuddle.

I had to take this shot of his cute little back foot with all the toe fur sticking out. Dont you just want tickle them?

Well those are our fur babies. We love them alot and they keep us entertained for hours.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Favourite Etsy Shop Friday

Favourite Etsy Shop Feature


1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm 41 years old, I've been married to my husband for 11 years and have two primary school aged boys. I was born in the City of Nottingham, UK; and now live on the outskirts of the city in an ex-mining town called Eastwood which was the birthplace of the writer D. H. Lawrence. I now work part time as a Dinner Lady/First Aider at the school which my children go to.........which fits in nicely around school holidays, prior to that I was a care assistant on a spinal injuries unit.

2. What made you open your shop and why Etsy?

I started making bears, initially for myself and close family, but after many requests by friends and family I decided to do it in a more business-like manner. We initially dabbled with Ebay, testing the market with the bears to see if they were saleable and to seek feedback from buyers. The response was very good but as we all know Ebay is primarily an auction site and serious crafters aren't going to get the required level of remuneration to make it financially viable........especially when you are using expensive, top of the range components for your products. Hence we sought out a better environment to sell our wears.

3. Do you sell your bears anywhere else?
Yes, we have our own fledgling website at which is a work in progress! We've also tried craft fairs and placing our bears in local shops on a sale-or-return basis with some success.

4. What are your favourite things to do?
Beyond day-to-day life the children come first, leisure wise we love walking, gardening and cooking. Or if we're feeling more lazy it's a good film or listening to some music.

5. What inspires you?
Our primary inspiration in life is to provide a safe and happy life for the boys, I'm using my handiwork as a method to supplement our family income as the craft work fits in well around family life. What keeps me going making bears? I love the feedback that we get from some of our customers, we've made a few friends along the way.......quite a few in the USA; and more recently we've been asked to make a bear in aid of ovarian cancer research by Ovcare which will be auctioned in Australia this November. I like that a tiny bear can either bring happiness to someone else's life or help a bigger cause.

6. Which bear is your favourite to make?
I don't have a favourite, we've constantly looked for new sources of materials and are always developing new patterns. We're not mass producers of bears and don't want the bears to end up looking uniform.......although even when we do use the same pattern, because the bears are totally hand stitched they never come out the same even with the same material!

7. I love mohair bears. Why did you choose mohair fur for making your bears?
Purely because it's a quality natural product.......and feels lovely. If you are buying a treat for yourself or a loved one you want to know that the materials that it is made out of are distinctive and luxurious. Manmade, synthetic fibres? Mmmmm, not sustainable, and maybe I'm a snob but mohair/alpaca vs nylon ect - need I say any more??

8. If you could learn one new craft what would it be?
I'd love to learn a craft all the family could get involved in like old fashioned dry stone walling or hedge laying.

9. Which handmade possession given to you do you most cherish?
I'm sure my husband would agree it's a handmade leather tortoise that his Gran bought before she died, it's been passed on to us and sits on the fireplace in pride of place. It's just one of those very sentimental possessions which brings back memories of a very special person!

10. Name 3 other Etsy shops you love to visit.
To be perfectly honest there is a massive range of stuff out there on Etsy and so many talented people. If I had to pick a style of product that I like to buy it would be celtic designs, three examples of shop that produce products that I like are: Ajax Hawes, Glass Graphics Studio and Nelly Van See.

Thank you to Lisabears for being my featured favourite Etsy shop this week. I just love handmade mohair bears. A friend of mine and her Mum make them and I use to go to the bear making shows with them in Australia. That is when the love first began. The thing I love about Lisabears bears are their little faces. They are always so smiley which makes me smile. Nothing worse than a grumpy bear. Each bear is a one of a kind with a name and a personality. Go on over to this shop and see which bear steals your heart.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What I Have Been Knitting Lately

I recently did a trade with Blushing Ewe, an Etsy shop that makes hand spun yarn and dyed roving. She wanted some fingerless mittens for her and her family to wear on a family trip coming up. Each person had their own colour yarn. There was so much yarn left over after making each pair of fingerless mitten that it didnt feel right to keep all that leftover yarn. I decided to make them each a little surprise made out of their leftover yarn. The 5 year old girl had the pink yarn and it just screamed, I need to be a pink piggy to me so that is what she got.

The 7 year old boy got a knitted ball because I figured you cant go wrong with a ball. This pattern I got from a knitted toy book I have which calls for making a six panel ball that I just did all in one colour which saves on having to do any seaming. I discovered that hand spun yarn is great for knitted balls. My girls were the testers to see if it was a good ball to throw and roll around. They had alot of fun being testers and reluctantly handed it back over after 5 minutes.

The 2 year old boy got just regular mittens and of course a knitted ball because little brothers always want what their older brothers have. I saw this yarn and wondered if this little boy is into Spiderman. I have since heard that when he got his ball and mittens that he didnt want to put the ball down and didnt want to take his mittens off despite it being the hottest Summer we've had in years. I guess they were a hit hehe.

The 13 year old girl got a rib hat to go with her fingerless mittens. Its hard to get the colour right in the photo but if you cant tell this yarn is like a chocolate brown. I figured I would make her something she could wear because at 13 you like to play with toys but your kind of moving to it not being so cool anymore so something to wear was a safer bet.

The Mum got a cowl so that she can keep warm on the trip and in the winter. I hope she liked it and finds it useful.

Once I made those knitted balls I knew I would end up making one for Victoria. She got that look in her eye when she saw them being done like I need to have one of those. Recently for my birthday my friend took me out to Starbucks and to a new yarn shop I hadnt been to yet. Its called Stash Busters and I think I will have to go back there again. They have the regular yarn shop downstairs where the prices are pretty reasonable and then you go upstairs and they have yarn there that people have brought in from their stash that they dont want anymore. They sell their yarn for consignment and you can get some really good deals. I made sure I had some money for this trip and brought home some really cool yarn. I got this yarn called Mochi Plus that is all rainbow colours. I didnt know what I was going to make with it but I knew Victoria likes rainbow colours. As soon as she saw this yarn she said Oh you can make me a Rainbow Ball so that is what it has become. I started work on it that very day. They dont take long to make so she had her Rainbow Ball pretty quickly. Im thinking Rainbow Balls could be popular in my shop so I may have to go and buy some more of this yarn. What do you think?

After all those projects I am currently working on some knitted toys to go off to New York to Stoopher & Boots. I havent sent anything in a while and its long overdue. My poor little shop is feeling neglected with nothing really new being added in a while so I will have to slip in some knitting for that. So many projects to do and so little time. I havent even got a chance to knit with the hand spun yarn I got from Blushing Ewe or use my fancy new glass knitting needles yet. At least I know I wont be bored any time soon. So stay tuned for some more finished projects to show off.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Favourite Etsy Shop Friday

Favourite Etsy Shop Feature

Tessa Ann

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a 30ish creative soul who loves the sun in the summertime and adores the snow in the winters. I reside in beautiful Bend, Oregon with my husband Steven and our 3 fur babies :)

2. What made you open your shop and why Etsy?

My buttons became a hit here locally and it was recommended that I open up my world and sell them online. I had already loved Etsy and shopped there frequently, so it was a natural choice for me to start selling my creations there.

3. Do you sell your buttons anywhere else?

In addition to Etsy, I also stock with the Universal Mama congo at Hyena Cart. My little store there is appropriately called, "The Button Shop"
. We are currently slowly branching out, marketing our buttons into shops and store fronts. I have just sent a large lot of our buttons to a little yarn shop in Australia who will be re-selling them. We are very excited to see how they do for her!

4. What are your favourite things to do?

I love taking an hour break during the week from all of the button madness....I walk across the street with my iced tea and Kindle in hand and just sit next to the river, dangling my feet in the cool water.... while enjoying some quiet time, reading next to my guy :) It's nice to slip away and come back feeling refreshed and ready to create!

5. What inspires you?

Color. I am always driven by color. I see beautiful ideas for color combinations everywhere, from the way the fruit is stacked in the grocery store to the array of colors on a billboard or television show. It's easy to be inspired when you are looking for it :)

6. Which is your favourite button set to make?

Right now, I would have to say I really love creating my "Who Loves You" owl button set. There are so many tiny details and layers to this one button which is quite time consuming, but I love watching it come together each time I create it. Each one is more adorable than the next!

7. Which is your most popular button set?

Hands down.... Cherry Blossoms I have sold literally hundreds of sets of this particular button set. This button set has been a huge hit especially for knitted garments.

8. Do you use your buttons in your crafts?

The idea to create buttons came from looking for perfect buttons for my crafting projects. I was tired of the plain, boring plastic buttons and thought I would try out polymer clay and make my own. They were the perfect solution to jazzing up my own crafting projects and when I received such rave reviews locally I decided to share them with the world!

9. Which handmade possession given to you do you cherish?

I am extremely sentimental when it comes to handmade gifts. I treasure them and keep them forever. From the basic handmade birthday card to a beautiful cedar hope-chest my late grandfather hand crafted for me. I have many cherished handmade possessions that mean so much to me.

10. Name 3 other Etsy shops you love to visit.

I love so many shops at Etsy. I typically purchase all of my gifts there and just a few of my most favorites are:

The Black Apple
Page Pottery

A big thank you to Tessa Ann for being my featured favourite shop this week. I could just buy these buttons and keep them as a collection even if I didnt have a purpose for them. They are just so cute and I love the colours. Its so great that there are different themes and each group seems to work together so well. You are sure to find a button that will make your project shine in this shop. Take a look and see the cuteness, you wont be disappointed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Favourite Etsy Shop Friday

Favourite Etsy Shop Feature

Meg's Monsters

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
This is a question that is always hard for me. I went to college at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD. I studied graphic design and digital illustration, I received my BFA. I decided that I loved school so much, I returned to MICA and got my MFA in sculpture. First and foremost I am a potter. There is nothing better for me in my life than to be in the studio throwing and creating. I can honestly say, I love my job. I am recently re-married and have become a stepmom. It has been a strange transition, but an awesome one! I have a pretty darn good life!

2.What made you open your shop and why Etsy?

When I lived in Maryland, I was doing many art shows on the weekend. It is a lot to setup and tear down every weekend. I decided I had enough of that so, I opened a gallery. The gallery was ARTFX. I had the gallery for 7 years and sold the business in 2008 and moved to Bend, OR. Upon arriving to Bend, I thought long and hard about opening another brick and mortar store. I decided that I needed to not to do that again. That is when I decided that I needed to pursue both ETSY and gallery representation.

3. Do you sell your monsters anywhere else?
I sell my monsters in Annapolis, MD to ARTFX, my former gallery. I also sell at a gallery called DonTerra in Sisters, OR. I am working with other galleries to wholesale my monsters. I do do the occasional show. I also am setting up a home show with other artists in my area.

4. What are your favourite things to do?

Bend is an extremely active community. It is the high desert here and the Cascade range of mountains is here too. With that said.....I like to hike, kayak and take a gazing walk in the park. I like music a lot, I sing with the Cascade Chorale and it fills the passion I have for singing. I love spending time with my family too. I could go on, but this seems the most pertinent to the question.

5. What inspires you?
My stepkids. They are 8 and 11 and they have the biggest imaginations. I listen to them often and roll with some of their conversations. I also find just looking at the world around me. Music is a huge influence in my life. I can listen to something with a fast beat or some beat and it seems to influence my work with the way the monsters turn out. If I listen to classical music, they seem to be a little softer around the edges...if you know what I mean? LOL!!!

6. Which of your monsters is your favourite?

I would have to say "BIFF". I like his simplicity. For some reason, one eyed guys are speaking to me lately...and the customers too.

7. Which is the most popular type of monster item, eg. mini, jar, bank etc.?
Definitely my lidded jars. The $45 dollar size and up.

8. If you could learn one new craft what would it be?
I really have been interested in glass for years now. I would love to learn to both blow and fused glass. The fused glass is probably more realistic, since I already have a kiln. Which really would feed my need to do glass.

9. Which handmade possession given to you do you cherish?
My dining room table. My dad made it. He was an amazing woodworker. I use it to eat meals with my family, my sewing table, my art definitely is a huge part of my life. I am so lucky to have a piece of my dad to remember him by. It keeps him alive in my heart and mind everyday.

10. name 3 other Etsy shops that you love to visit.

That is really hard....there are so many I like. I guess if I had to pick 3, they would be as follows.

Matte Stephens
Yoga Goat Pottery

Thank you to Meg's Monsters for being my favourite Etsy shop feature this week. These monsters are so full of character and spunk. I could imagine a shelf filled with them like a monster party. I love how each one is unique with their own personality. Check out this shop and see if you can find a favourite monster of your own. There may be one just sitting there waiting for you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Etsy Surprises

I wasnt able to arrange a favourite Etsy shop interview in time for today so I thought I would share some Etsy surprises that we have gotten recently. My Mum decided to send us each a little something from Etsy, just a little surprise in the mail. I love little Etsy surprises. This is what we got. The above picture is what I got. A little piggy and a cute little acorn that now sit on my kitchen window sill so I have something cute to look at while I wash the dishes. They are sitting with my crystals that are soaking up some sun energy. The piggy has to come down from the shelf when the window is open on a windy day. I think he needs to put on a few pounds because he tends to blow off in the breeze. These little cuties came from Bird On Wire Studio.

This little cutie belongs to Megan. She is a turtle lover. I believe her name is Sasha. I just love her little pink toes. She may end up on a necklace but she is also cute just sitting on a shelf just looking up at you with those big beautiful eyes. This little turtle came from Maybeads

My husband Joe is a big Michael Jordan fan and likes to collect his memorabilia. This is something he definitely didnt already have, a poker chip with Michael Jordan on it. Im not sure what Etsy shop this came from. I would have to check with my Mum. Joe thought it was really cool and it now sits with all of the other stuff in the Michael Jordan corner.

Victoria's surprise was a Steggy the Stegosaurus finger puppet from Stay Awake And Play. He has joined the ranks for toys sleeping with her and she loves him alot. She loves it that his name is already Steggy as its a favourite name for Stegosaurus fellas.

I had a birthday last week on the 24th. I am now the big 34. For my birthday from my Mum I got this very pretty necklace from Beauty Spot. I love the red and the turquoise together and the sweet little birdy. I have already worn this a few times. Megan and Victoria really like it as well. I have a feeling Megan will be asking to borrow it some time soon.

The other present I got from my Mum are these beautiful glass knitting needles from namaste glass. I havent got a chance to use them yet because I am working on a trade I am doing with another Etsy shop but I think as soon as that is done I will have to find a project that I can use these for. I cant wait to see what it will be like to knit with glass needles. They are very smooth and cool to the touch, very good for summer knitting. Now I think I will have to get a straight needle holder to so I can protect them and not put them in the big plastic bag with all the others. I hate that my straight needles are all disorganized like that, these needles will be a good excuse to buy an organizer.

Thank you Mum for all the Etsy surprises. We love them all. You didnt have to do that but we sure do appreciate them.