Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Summer 2013 Update: July

(Note: this post was written at the end of July, I'm just late posting it...)

Recently I've been catching up on blog posts about projects from the last few months plus a couple of recent posts - but you may be wondering what I've been up to since the school year ended.

Well I sure haven't been idle on the crafting front! Here is a quick update on some of my recent projects, besides the knitting project that I've already posted about.

Once I finished the golf club covers for my Dad, I realized that I was running out of time before our summer road trip to Ontario, so I had to get organized about what to bring with me, and what to finish before I left. Here's some of what I've been working on (besides the knitted blanket which you've already heard about).

"Named in the Light of the Seven" - Bright Rainbow Blanket

Ever since I picked up the bright rainbow yarn in December, I have been wanting to make a bright rainbow baby blanket. So once I was done the massive wedding blanket project, I decided to start work on a baby blanket for some friends in Regina who were expecting in early July. I decided this would be the time for this bright baby blanket, and I also decided to make it a 7-colour rainbow (you know, ROYGBIV like a real rainbow).

I also decided to design the pattern to use the number 7 as much as possible. I'd been considering this kind of design for a while, ever since I'd heard of Christian prayer shawl patterns that used the number 3 over and over (for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and also of Wiccan patterns that also used the number 3, but in this case it was for the 3 aspects of the goddess - maiden, mother and crone. Apparently in both cases the working of the design then becomes a type of prayer or meditation.

I was intrigued by this idea, and wanted to try something in 7s, partly for the 7 principles of Unitarian Universalism, which I belong to. These principles are often equated with the 7 colours of the rainbow - here is a simplified summary of them using ROYGBIV:

R - Respect All People
O - Offer kind and fair treatment to all
Y - Yearn to Accept and Learn About Ourselves and Others
G - Grow by Exploring What is True and Right
B - Believe in our Ideas and Act on Them
I - Insist on Freedom, Justice, and Peace for all People
V - Value our home, Earth, that we share with all living beings

Also, since reading and watching the Game of Thrones series (which I am listening to again on audiobook this summer as I craft), where the mainstream religion has 7 gods (mother, maiden, crone, father, smith, warrior, stranger), the number 7 comes up over and over again, and rainbows are used to represent this faith. Children born to families who worship the Seven are said to be "Named in the light of the Seven". Plus, their peace banners are rainbow-striped - isn't that cool?

So I figured this 7 colour blanket would appeal to Game of Thrones fans and Unitarians alike, plus anyone who likes the scientific accuracy of having all the colours of a real rainbow.

Anyway, enough background...

Usually my zigzag baby blankets are made with 6 stitches on each side of a point, so for this blanket made in 7s, I added a stitch to each section. I also made sure that the bottom edge had 7 points. Usually the width of the stripes on my blankets varies, (I think I have used 5  or 6 rows per stripe in the past for rainbows) so of course I increased that to 7, as well as adding an indigo-coloured yarn.

I actually started this blanket while in Germany for my friend's wedding, but it got set aside during the craziness at the end of the school year. I picked it up again at the end of June and was hoping to get it finished before we left for Ontario for the summer, since our friends' baby would be born in early July.

As soon as I had worked through one set of the 7 colours, I realized that this blanket would have different dimensions than usual. In order to fit in two repeats of the rainbow pattern it would be longer than usual, but the same width.

Wow, you're really helping me take pictures of the blanket Nikko... good thing you're cute!
I didn't get it finished before we left, but I finally completed it in the first week that we were out east, and shipped it back to Regina. I think it turned out pretty well, though next time I would make it wider to make it seem less long and skinny. I can do this while still maintaining the pattern of 7s by counting 7 tops of points (at the purple end), instead of 7 bottom points (the red end) See, if you count in this picture there are 7 points at the red end but only 6 at the purple end - next time I would make it 8 at the red end and 7 at the purple end). The indigo is also a lot darker than the other colours, so I might also look for a shade in a similar yarn that would blend more smoothly.

Sorry for the poor lighting, this was taken inside

Outside, with a Muskoka chair for scale

When I get a picture of the new little guy with this blanket, I will post it here as an edit.

Treehouse Boutique Inventory

This summer I heard of a little shop that just opened in North Bay Ontario, called Treehouse Boutique, that specializes in showcasing work by Canadian artisans.
When I first heard about it through Handmade Saskatchewan in June, I considered getting involved, but I was so busy that I didn't have time to think much about it, beyond "liking" their Facebook page. Then in early July the owner started asking about artists who made things other than jewelry (I guess her store was mostly jewelry at that point), so I contacted her, and right away she seemed very interested. She was intrigued by the laptop cases but since there are so many different sizes of laptops, it seemed impractical. We decided to start with some phone cases, and some baby booties.

When we had this conversation I was visiting some friends who live on Lake Huron, so I didn't have access to my usual craft stores. I tried the cute little local yarn shop in town called Docknits, and I was able to find some nice colours of "superwash" wool sock yarn (for the phone cases), for a reasonable price.

A couple of days later we left for Miami because Deep had an academic conference to attend there, and I was tagging along for the cheap(ish) trip to Florida. I had a great time working on 3 different sizes of phone cases (iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5, and Blackberry curve) during all the talks, and while out with friends for meals and drinks.
Crochet makes academic talks so much more interesting... 
Crocheting while at a fancy cocktail bar with some friends!
Once back from Miami, I needed to organize all the items to send to Treehouse, and I had to attach tags with item names, codes, and prices. Pricing things was interesting - I needed to increase the prices compared to my Etsy store because due to the consignment model Treehouse uses, the artist (that's me!) gets 55% of the shop price, so in order to cover my materials and shipping costs, and to pay for my time, the shop price has to be higher. Hopefully the increased exposure in the shop will make all this worth it!

I had a hard time finding tags at first (couldn't find anything at Staples, and at Michaels a small package was quite expensive and no choice of paper colour or type). Then I discovered a punch at Michaels that I could use to cut out my own tags out of any paper. It was pricier for the few tags I needed at this point, but I knew that over time it would be cheaper as well as much more flexible.

At this point I had a nice collection of phone cases in the 3 sizes and 4 colour combinations.

I had also just made a set of solid-colour baby booties to add to my Etsy store, so I decided to send those along too.

Here are all the items all ready to go to the shop, just in time for a festival in North Bay at the beginning of August.

Wish me luck and good sales in this new shop :)

Keep crafting!

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