Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crochet Christmas Trees

I was at Joann Fabrics one day, and while browsing through the store (as I always do when I'm in there, I can't help it), I saw a fun sock yarn that was red, green, blue, and white. Loved it immediately. I have a lot of blues, greens, and red in my main living spaces, and that's what I was leaning towards for Christmas. This yarn needed to be made into something for Christmas.

Patons Kroy sock yarn in Summer Moss
I decided to make a garland with it. I have some up on Etsy, but I made myself one, too, because I love it. I crocheted several small Christmas trees and attached them to a long chain made from the same yarn. This is the first year I really get to decorate for Christmas and I'm so excited!

Handmade garland on the handmade bookcase
I can't really share a pattern for the trees because I don't have one. I liked them all to be a little different, so I didn't try to make a pattern. Then I made a wonderfully perfect tree the other day - but couldn't figure out what I did and thus, still no pattern. I tried them several different ways. Here's what I do:

* I found that starting at the top and working my way down was much easier than starting at the bottom.
* I begin with a chain 3, make a loop, and work 3 double crochets into the loop, then increase for about 3 rows, decrease quite a bit, then increase for about 3 rows... etc. Until it looks right. Technical, right?
* Sometimes I pull it out and redo a row. Just eyeball it. How's that for technical.
* Sometimes I mix up single and double crochet.
* It helps to do a treble crochet on the ends (or just something longer than what you're using) to keep it straight and not rounded up, if you know what I mean. Otherwise it can start looking like... this:

I did actually spend (too much) time on this terrible graphic
I have another crocheted garland to share soon. I promise to be more helpful with that one! Haha. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas is coming!

I listened to Christmas music quite a bit today. Did a quick update in the Etsy shop and here on the blog for a holiday banner.

Busy with work and little details. I might share a little about those trees up in the banner tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday at Home

Well, this is what my black Friday is looking like so far:

Making things for the shop, watching Grey's Anatomy and Robin Hood, coffee, snacks... I had pumpkin pie for breakfast, shhh. It's grey and chilly outside, so I've got a cozy blanket and my slippers. My husband is busy working in the craziness that is a mall on Black Friday. The dog is snoring on his pillow. No way I'm going out shopping; I don't want to deal with the crowds today!

Speaking of Black Friday, I have a special going on at Etsy, now through Monday (Black Friday, Cyber Monday... don't you love all those titles? or not) - all items are marked down already, but if you enter the code BLACKFRIDAY2010 for my store at checkout, you'll get a grand total of 25% off all items and free shipping. Quite a few sellers are having sales; I love that you can buy handcrafted goodies without leaving the house. I'll be adding more items to my shop through the weekend. Which means I need to get back to making them!

This is a garland in the making, by the way. I have plans to make some of my own decorations, today, too - like a tree skirt. Let's see how much I can actually get done!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

French Toast

I'm ready for the holidays to start. We're spending Thanksgiving with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law; it's so fun to be here and not by ourselves in Virginia! It's a relatively small Thanksgiving group compared to what we've had some years, but it will be good.

My mom, my sis-in-law, and I are all cooking, so I had to get supplies. I'm making candied yams, rolls, pumpkin pie, and some snacks for earlier in the day. I wasn't quite sure what I was making and what I needed until Sunday, so I ended up going to the grocery store tonight - and it was kind of crazy. Too many people. And I forgot eggs, so I had to go back in. And while I was grabbing eggs, I decided I wanted whipping cream too. At least with only 2 things I could do self checkout and get out quicker.

I'm looking forward to the long weekend, too, but unfortunately my husband will be working so I don't think we get any lazy days together. I love having a late breakfast with him, but we don't get to do that very often anymore. This was my breakfast on Saturday, French toast:

Does anyone else top their French toast with powdered sugar and cinnamon? I didn't realize until I was a teenager that most people top theirs with syrup. This is how my mom always made it. I love when the sugar gets a little dissolved into the butter and it's all brought together with cinnamon... mmmm.

Whatever you eat this Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Update

Well, I wasn't feeling great over the weekend; I think I'm fighting with a little cold. It was a moderately productive weekend, though.

Last week I actually made a lightbox, seen here:

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. At least, it's sort of helpful. I don't have a good light to use with it, and as you can see, it's rather flimsy. But overall, it's better than what I was getting with poor lighting and a lightweight camera. Makes things easier.

I worked on this little guy (Etsy shop preview!); hand-stitched while watching Coraline. Which was interesting. I know I'm a little late to this, but hey, I'm not exactly a "cutting-edge" person. I liked it as a movie; the characters were fun and interesting. The whole stop-motion, crafty, handmade aspect amazes me.

I also made one of the autumn potholders.

It's super-thick and I love the stitched "veins." I felted two sweaters for this; the grey one was thrifted and the red one is an old one of mine (I'm too lazy to care for wool sweaters properly, so it had become too small). First time felting wool myself, and it was so fun! With the thrifted one, I turned a loose-fitting women's medium into a child-sized sweater about an inch thick. Not really an inch, but that grey wool is actually a good 3/8" thick now.

I'm planning to bring it to my mom's for Thanksgiving dinner. That bowl needs some food in it. So excited for the holidays to begin!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Adding & Connecting

I now have a link to the Etsy shop here on the blog, along with a link to the brand-new Facebook page - both are over there --> on the sidebar.

I have also somehow connected Facebook to Etsy, and there are links to Twitter and this here blog on Etsy... It all feels very circular and makes my brain spin a little. We were watching The Office tonight and I felt like I needed a weird version of WUPHF.

Craftiness to happen tomorrow. Hopefully I can make time for some Christmas goodies, because I want to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving - and that's next week! It doesn't quite seem like November to me yet, but maybe a nice, rainy weekend will help.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Go Vote at Design*Sponge!

If you haven't seen it, Design*Sponge is having a "Design Your Own Alphabet" contest. On day 2, I saw Skunkling, which I really liked and has made it into the top 3. Then I found out today that it was designed by one of my husband's high school classmates! Go vote for him!

*** Update: He won! ***

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Etsy Treasuries

Well, I may have found a new addiction. I made my first treasury today:

And I am also IN my first treasury!

It's so fun to dig around, figure out a theme, find items that go together... It takes some time, though!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vintage Needlework

I am definitely not one of those people who can come up with even semi-creative titles here, am I?

A few weeks ago I did a little thrift-store shopping, and I found these:

This is actually the first non-fabric vintage purchase I think I've made. I rarely go to thrift stores, and when I do, I'm usually just looking at the sheets for good prints. I've gone a few times in the last month though, and I'm starting to look around a little more.

They came in these frames, but I spray painted them black. They were a yellowed creamy color, and there's sort of a wood grain texture to the plastic. I don't know what they looked like originally... I can only imagine. One of my favorite things about these is that there was a little note on the back of each one.

One of them said (although I couldn't really read the name):
"Worked by Rita Thilitt
1979 & 1980
Part worked
while right arm
& wrist broken in
fall 5/27/79”

The other said simply:
“See back of
other picture”

They're now on what used to be a completely blank wall between our TV and sliding glass door. Not bad for $4.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Etsy shop - now open!

I have officially listed my first item in the Smith & Daphne Etsy shop. I'll be adding new items throughout the week, so although it looks a little bare right now, I do indeed have more items! I just need to get pictures taken and descriptions written for everything - luckily my mom is going to help out with the pics.

Now I'm off to do some more sewing!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Took the day off...

I spent the day with my husband, Buddy, in "the city" (which around here means San Francisco). He had the day off, so I took the day off too and we headed out for a day trip we've been trying to take since my birthday (almost exactly a month ago).

It was a beautiful day. We took the ferry.

The Ferry Building is very cool and has some wonderful shops in it. We started off with coffee at Blue Bottle - which is amazing.

Then, we got a hazelnut macaron and an eclair from Miette. This was my first macaron - loved it! I was so excited to eat it I took a bite and then got a very blurry picture. So I made it more blurry... ? It's like a dream picture of a macaron (or something):

Then we walked around and went down to Pier 39, where we saw the sea lions, bought a Christmas ornament (I like getting these when we go somewhere, because I know it's a collection I'll actually use and enjoy), got some candy, and saw a super creepy cat urn for sale. Really.

Oh, and we saw them decorating the big Christmas tree! The ornaments are gigantic.

Then we went back to the Ferry Building to shop around there. We had lunch from Cowgirl Creamery, which was SO good. I <3 cheese.

It was a very good day off.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Busy Week

Well, this is shaping up to be quite a busy week, more than I'd expected. All good things going on, but I don't have much extra time.

I'm going to try to make myself a lightbox (about 97,600,000 Google results for how to do that!), so on Monday I picked up a piece of white posterboard. It also happened to rain on Monday, and my umbrella is less than wonderful.

On the way in to the store, I had to hold it open because I couldn't get it to extend all the way and hold itself open. On the way out of the store, I was (awkwardly) trying to both keep it out of the rain and hold it fairly steady so it wasn't flapping around. As I was doing so, I walked into the parking lot down the (lane? aisle? row?) I thought my car was on. I looked around... didn't see it. Wondered if I was seriously confused because I was pretty sure that I had walked down this row and across that crosswalk to get into the store.

Looked over at the next row, because sometimes I do lose myself in the parking lot. Through the rain, I could tell that my car was indeed NOT on that row either...... Hmm.

At this point, I realized that I actually went through the opposite entrance, and my car was probably about 4 rows and several rainy steps away from where I was. Luckily, my posterboard didn't warp or anything, but it was definitely damp by the time it got into my car.

Moral of the story? Don't buy posterboard in the rain.

Also, get a new umbrella.

(this one's cute AND funny-shaped!) at Target.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

China Accents

I was browsing on the West Elm website today, and I saw these plates:

Aren't they pretty? I love how the leaf shapes are authentic and organic, but they're done in a shimmery gold. That sparkle mixed with nature is great. My china is the Noritake Crestwood Platinum, and I think that mixing the gold and platinum would be really fun for the holidays. This would work just as well for Thanksgiving as it would for Christmas, too, because it's not a holiday-specific design.

Noritake Crestwood Platinum
I actually think I got something in the mail from West Elm recently... I should go find that, it might be a discount that tempts me into buying them!

Hostess with the Mostess has some cute gold & silver ideas, such as this:

I really like this centerpiece, too:

Martha Stewart

And mercury glass, I have to get some of that:

West Elm again

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekend Sewing

This weekend is all about Etsy sewing, but I'm hoping to make some time for this project, too:

Yes, that's 90210 playing - the original
I'm just finishing hand stitching the binding. I used the Heather Bailey tutorial, available here.

As usual, I had a few small issues but nothing major. I didn't leave myself quite enough binding at the end and had trouble getting the ends sewn together. After a bit of time and ripping out some stitches I finally got it to work. I wrapped the binding around an old jar and unwound it as I went. I liked not having to fuss with a big length of binding falling all over the place. I think I'd do that again.

I also didn't think too much about the seam allowances. I sewed about half of one edge before thinking to test it and make sure it would wrap around correctly. It did not. More ripping of stitches and we were good to go.

I really like seeing the binding getting finished. It makes the quilt feel so pulled together. I can't wait to wash and dry it and see how nice and rumpled it gets. But I really need to work on Etsy items, so this project is on the waiting list.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Aviary & Phoenix

I was searching for a good way to make an Etsy banner/blog header that DIDN'T involve Photoshop, (since I don't have or want to buy Photoshop), and I found this. It's a nice, simple tutorial for a banner using a web application called Phoenix. I'd never heard of Aviary or Phoenix (or any of the other programs) but I'm now a big fan! I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I got 5 decent looking banners in one evening. And it's free!

I've tried using GIMP for photo editing, etc. but never got the hang of it. I think some of the problems were from trying to run it on my Mac, who knows. Phoenix runs right in Firefox and doesn't do too many weird things. I did have some issues resizing the text, but I just kept working with it and got it to do what I wanted. There were also times when I had to click things more than once (like "Export image" - never worked the first time I clicked it). But really, nothing big.

I'm waiting for official permission to use one of my mom's images for the header that I picked, but here are some of the other versions (one of which I like and may use in the future).

First try

Version 2

Version 3
Hopefully I'll have a new (real) blog header tomorrow!

***Update - It's up!***

Weekend Movie

I just noticed that the new Alice In Wonderland is on Netflix in my instant queue - I just may be watching that this weekend. I wasn't sure if I wanted to see it, but obviously I added it to my list. I haven't really heard much about it, but I think I'll give it a shot.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Starting Up

I have a new Etsy account, a new blog, and a Twitter account now! I'm (slowly) working on getting everything set up and still making things to put in the shop. The Etsy store isn't open yet, but it's getting closer! I finally picked a name:

Smith & Daphne

You can find me here:
Etsy: SmithAndDaphne (nothing to see, YET)
Twitter: @SmithAndDaphne (again, nothing there yet)
New blog! smithanddaphne.blogspot.com - I will be using the new blog soon. I'll update when I've officially switched.