Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's been a long time...

So I got pretty busy with the blankets and stopped posting.  I sent out my last order in November and closed up shop (temporarily, I hope) because I just could not comfortably get my work done while my little one was around.  I was starting to miss deadlines and feel stressed and feel like I was missing out on stuff that I wanted to be doing with him, and also getting frustrated because he wasn't always very patient with me having to spend time focused on something else.  I'm happy I decided to take a break.  We're all feeling more refreshed and excited about life now.  I'm even starting to have fantasies about listing items in my etsy shop again.  If I do, though, it'll only be once in a blue moon, without any eye towards building a business or even making sales.  We'll see...

And in these last few months I've cycled through several crafty pursuits.  First there was yarn dying, which is just beyond lovely.  And I even bought a knitting machine so I could make blanks to dye, which, of course led to a sock knitting obsession.

blank sock #3

And then, to my great, great relief I cleaned up my sewing room.  Phew!  And, most exciting, I got a huge bookshelf with adjustable shelves so I now have an awesome place to keep my thread cones.  This made it possible and even fun to sew up some much needed new diapers and a couple of tees for my little guy.

I was desperate for some new bags and accessories, so I printed out my oh so awesome Keyka Lou patterns and started surfing around looking for fun ways to dress them up and I stumbled upon HEXAGONS!  Oh, hexagons, where have you been all of my life???  I am in love!

These were my first batch of hexies, 3/4 inch, which I sewed onto to these sweet, sweet, sweet linen baby pants. This linen is so incredibly soft and drapey.  I don't for sure if it'll hold up for a baby, but it might.  I washed and dried it on hot when I first bought it, so it may be okay.  I'm definitely making a pair of these for Augie for the summer.  They are just so light and comfy feeling.

My first hexies...

And now I have moved on to these:

They're so photogenic.

They're one inch hexes that are to become my first quilt.  I'd love to make it king sized, but for now, I'm thinking a large throw for the living room.  A king sized quilt would require something like 4,500 hexes. And these are all going to be basted and sewn by hand, and hand quilted too.  I have about 170 hexes basted now and I'm about to start sewing some together.  I'm so excited!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I need a kick in the butt.

dec24 2009 003
Originally uploaded by smileypomegranate

I just have not been able to finish this project, even though I know I'll love it and I am pretty sure that it will take less than an hour to finish, maybe even like five minutes. I don't know. I've never made a tassel before, but that's all it needs. And a few ends woven in, but I already did like 80% of those. It's like when I see what it's going to look like in the end, I don't feel compelled to finish it. I definately knit more for the process than the product. When I was pregnant I think I knitted my little guy about a dozen pairs of pants, but I don't think I put a single one on him. Of course, it didn't help that my friend, Lindsay, made me a ton of really gorgeous wool interlock pants and covers. But anyhow, I sure would like to see my big guy wearing this hat!

It's the Hudson Hat, btw, without the earflaps, knitted up in lovely worsted (heavy worsted, imo) malabrigo. The hat is HEAVY. Would be perfect for a New England winter. We complain bitterly when it gets down to 50* here, though.  (As you can see I did not use the yarn that my darling son chose for the hat.  Turned out it was just too darned mature for me.)

So, I've been so busy since we got home from our trip east for Thanksgiving, mostly with shop stuff.  I've done a ton of customs and even sold some of the instock stuff from my shop.  The customs really stress me out.  It's funny because they push me to make stuff that I probably wouldn't have otherwise, and I am always really pleased with the results.  My favorite custom item from this season was a 50x60 inch blanket.  I did two for the same person and they were the first blankets of this size I've sold.  And the last time I made one was about three years ago.  So I was kind of worried, not sure how they would turn out. 

Anyhow, for this blanket that I just love, I didn't have enough natural colored obv to do the whole order.  I had enough to do one layer for each blanket, so I dyed the backs for these but the fronts were all out of my already dyed fabric bin.  Some of the pieces were pretty small.  It was so gratifying to put them together!  And I so did not want to send this blanket off!

And last but not least, I got a new fabric!  A whole awsome roll of organic cotton bamboo double-sided terry, and I'm in love!  I just want to roll in it!  And I wish that I had had it when my little guy was a newborn because it is making scrumptious swaddle blankets.  I am dreaming of the day when I have six or eight different organic rolls in my sewing room (my sewing room will be bigger then!).  Some people dream of fame and fortune, but I'd be pretty pleased by a nice selection of organics. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wanna free lovey?

Come sign up here for a lovey giveaway.  You can choose any lovey you see in my shop, your choice of colors and if you're feeling experimental, we can do a whole new applique, or none at all.  Patchwork if you want.  Totally custom!  I'm looking to add new designs to the shop, so I may use your great ideas for future lovies.  And by the way, the holiday season is kicking my butt -- in a good way! -- so I won't be starting your lovey until after Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I've been looking for somewhere to hang out and I may have found it...

It's always exciting to find an etsy shop I like, whether they're already a great success or not, but somehow it's more fun to find an up and coming shop that doesn't have a bazillion sales already.  I'm always a little disappointed when I click on a thumbnail and find that it's one of those shops that has already made it.  I want to find that unnoticed diamond in the rough and watch them, uh, blossom or get polished or something, and support them and feel like we're in it together.  Somehow it's more satisfying that feeling like the shy new kid in the corner singing the praises of the popular kids. 

So, today I found one such shop.  It's Bags by Claire and I'm drooling over her stuff, especially this bag:

I may have to ask for this for xmas!

And, on a related note...  of course it would be fun to get to know and talk to other etsians just starting out, compare notes, vent, etc., and I think I found the place.  It's the Etsy D List.  The blog looks like a great resource and there is a team and a forum, I think.  I have to do some more poking around over there.  A few weeks ago, I was starting to feel really frustrated and down about my shop (happy to report I can't even remember why now!) and it sure would've been nice to have some people who understood to talk to.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My little guy's eye: a totally off topic PSA

On the day he was born, his eyelid, like the rest of him, was just perfect and beautiful.  But by day three or so, we noticed what looked like a bright red scratch right above and running parallel to his eyelashes.  By about ten days it was clearly growing like mad.  And at seven weeks it looked like this:

It was a hemangioma, sometimes called a strawberry birthmark, which is normally not any reason for great concern.  Apparently something like 10% of caucasian babies have one or more of them.  They normally grow for six months to a year -- to various sizes, some never getting big at all, but some getting pretty large -- and then begin to receed and eventually, usually by age five, disappear.  They don't usually require any medical treatment.  But because his was on his eyelid there was a chance that it could get so big as to block his vision, which would leave him blind in that eye even after the hemangioma was gone.  Also, hemangiomas can distort the underlying flesh, and can be especially disfiguring if on an eyelid or at the corners of the nose or mouth.  I'm not sure if this is always the case, but my little guy's hemangioma seemed to involve the entire thickness of his lid, so the underside was also beet red. 

Before about a year ago the only treatments for hemangiomas were steroids (either shot into the hemangioma or given systemically) and surgery.  The steroids caused side effects, like growth retardation, thinning of the bones, and adrenal suppression, which obviously would be very scary in a newborn, especially since it would be given for several months.  From what I could gather, surgery on a hemangioma doesn't always lead to great outcomes and is more difficult than other similar surgeries because a hemangioma is a vascular tumor and thus is prone to serious bleeding. 

So, I feel so lucky that he was born when he was!  It was hard being one of the first to use a new treatment, but because the old treatments were so bad, I feel like we really dodged a bullet.  About a year before he was born a pediatric cardiologist in France was using propranolol (a drug that had been used on pediatric heart patients since the 80's, and on adults for much longer) on several patients, and a couple of them had hemangiomas.  Over the course of their treatment, the doctor realized that the hemangiomas didn't grow and may have receeded earlier than what would have been expected.  After that, there was a trial involving 12 babies that had good results, and then my little guy was born.  Very few babies had been treated with propanolol before him and I believe that he was one of the first if not the very first in San Diego. 

Even though propranolol seemed like such a godsend, it was also scary to make the decision to use it.  Side effects included a possible lowering of blood pressure and blood sugar.  And can you imagine looking at your two month old and trying to figure out if his blood pressure might be low?  The most likely symptom would be sleepiness.  So, we had to have blood pressure checks three times a week.  And if you've ever had to have your newborn's blood pressure checked, you know that it doesn't seem like an exact science.  They would take it on each limb (if he was calm enough) and often the results would be all over the map. 

So I wanted to put our story out there for other parents considering propranolol.  When I was googling it eight months ago, there was next to nothing on the web as far first hand experience with it.  And there were a lot of people saying it shouldn't be used for this purpose at all.

If I had it to do again, I would definately do propranolol!  It was scary at first, but after a few weeks of bp checks and with my little guy getting older, it did start to get pretty tolerable.  We saw a noticeable improvement within the first 48 hours, mostly a decrease in intensity of the color.  It went from a deep glaring beet red to a grey/pink.  (This was the day before we started and this was what it looked like 48 hours in.)

From what I was able to find online, it seemed like most or all of the improvement would be seen in the first 48 hours or so, but that wasn't true for us.  His hemangioma was almost completely gone by six months, after being on propranolol for a little more than four months.  This pic was taken about a month before he stopped taking propranolol, and as you can see the lid is still a little misshapen, but not nearly as big and puffy or red.

After he stopped the medication at a week shy of six months, the hemangioma came back a bit, not so much in color, but it is a little puffy.  But it hasn't bounced back enough that it seems like it could be a threat to his vision.  And yesterday, at 9 1/2 months, his dermatologist saw it and thought he was completely out of the woods and would not have to go back on the meds.  He may need some reconstructive surgery, which would happen just before kindergarten, but he probably won't.  I'm really thrilled by how it all turned out!  Phew!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ramping Up!

It feels like things are starting to happen in my shop!  For a while it was seemed kinda hopeless, and then almost without realising it things have picked up a bit.  I had a sale and two custom orders last week and then three sales today.  That's really not too bad.  If I could count on averaging three sales a week, I would feel like this was paying off a bit.  Of course six sales in two weeks is not quite the same as averaging three a week.  For all I know, I won't have another for two months.  Or maybe I'll keep up this pace till Christmas and then slow down.  At any rate, it's fun getting sales! 

I'm almost feeling busy.  Today I finished and listed two new products and I'd love to show them off.  I took these pics at about 4:30 this afternoon, which was really too late.  I could've used a bit more light, I think.  But these are still better than my older pics. 

Another elephant lovey -- the deepest of purples on mauve.  I don't think I've thought of the color or the word "mauve" for 20 years at least.  But this pink is so mauve.  And I'm loving the appliqued loveys!  I've got five more appliques cut out and sitting on my cutting table!

And another scarf...  I guess I didn't mention the first two here.  One of my customs last week was for a scarf in lavender and robins egg blue, so I dyed up a bunch of fabric and when I looked at it all I thought it would look so sweet with some deeper purples in there, too.  So I made two different scarves, one with and one without the purples, so the customer can pick one and I'll list the other... or possibly wear it.  This is the lighter version.

And here is the newest one:

I've got another sprouting on the back of my cutting table out of the same deep black/purple as this one, but I'm going to put a solid piece sweet light pink on the other side, no patchwork.  I can't wait to see what it looks like! 

Oh, and check this out, I am OUT of OBV!  Or at least natural undyed obv.  I've gone through two rolls now.  That's 110 yards!  Wow!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm so thrilled with these photos!

A few weeks back I kinda gave up on my pics because I was hoping that I would be able to set up a space in my new sewing room where I could take them with artificial light and not be limited to doing my pictures at certain times of day.  But that required, or so I thought, that I purchase lighting of some sort and I've been patiently waiting for a time that I felt like there was enough money to go buy fancy lighting.  Then today I turned on one of my little cheapy Ikea halogen lamps and ding ding ding!  It just seemed right.  So I arranged my two little lamps in a way that seemed appropriate, though of course I know nothing about this stuff, turned on my overhead light which is kinda lame and probably didn't add anything to the mix, and took some pics.  I am very pleased with how they came out!  (And I'm also pleased to have a blanket that matches my rotary cutters so perfectly!)

I think these turned out better than any of my previous pics.  Now I'm wondering if I should redo all of the pics in my shop.  I will mull that over for a while and hope that I become very popular with the pregnant ladies before I get to it.  But I'm so tickled, I have to show you just one more:

And if anyone in the know happens upon this post and sees some obvious flaw in these that I don't, let me know, but not for a couple of days.  I want to enjoy them for a while first.