Cowl Mania!

Some days you just need instant gratification. Working on a sweater, blanket or shawl is nice, but some days you just need to feel accomplished.

Welcome to my week.

The good part about making a cowl is that they are simple, you get to use fun, colorful yarns and try out new stitch patterns.

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Mesh Cowl

I just bought the new (to me) Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 5, “Lace.” I’ve been dying to try out and experiment with some of the lace work, so my current cowl is made of a lightly variegating yarn in a nice mesh pattern. You can buy it soon at Coffeeandt.etsy.com. Right now, I have a handful of cowls and shortie scarves posted.

The second thing I like about making cowls, is they are perfect train company. Mine are done on circular needles that are very short. I tried knitting a bag once on the train with very long metal needles. My neighbor was not happy and after a few stitches, I realized it was not a smart choice to have long pointy needles so close to other people’s faces. I got the “New York” glare. (Traditionally, I find New Yorkers to be passive aggressive, “huffer and puffers” and eye rollers; not outwardly aggressive…BUT there is always an exception to the rule. And you don’t want to be sticking pointing needles on a moving train in that person’s face…)

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Honeymoon Yarn Cowl

The final part about this cowl fever is it’s been a great stash dash. I have been using up a lot of random arty yarns that I got because I loved, but “didn’t have a project” for yet.

A lot of the yarns in my stash that just aren’t right for clothing articles that you would wear as a main piece, but they are perfect for cowls. They will add that pop of color you need on a dreary winter day, is solved. It’s sad when your stash becomes so big that going through it is like going to the yarn store and discovering “new” treasures… Trust me, it’s a good thing for me to use some of it up.

For example:  While on my honeymoon in Amsterdam, my HB picked out a yarn he wanted for a scarf….Little did we know, it knitted into a rainbow!  Now, he’s all about fun colors and crazy yarns, but it was a little too much.  So (in the picture above) I finally knitted it up this week into a fun cowl.  I am sure there is someone out there who loves rainbows!  I got Brian a nice tan yarn as a replacement…

So, if you need some instant gratification, I suggest a cowl! (Or if you don’t knit, pick one up at CoffeeandT.etsy.com!)

 

 

 

Social Life? Oh yeah!

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My Summer Vest

For the past few weeks, I’ve been very involved in crafting. I worked on sewing all of the crochet hook and knitting needle bags, Tara and I prepared in Ohio. I have been doing great with my finishing up my knitted UFOs (unfinished Objects). I am almost done with the summer vest I talked about in the last post (FO Joys), I finished 3 cowls (which will be posted on Coffeeandt.etsy.com soon!) I just got a delivery of 1000 new buttons to press! On top of all of this exciting crafting, I’ve been trying to keep our store’s stock current.  I just added 6 new items to the store: An Autumn Cowl, A baby Tomato Hat, A new Button Cowl, Our Market Bags (that we started at my grandma’s), a beaded bracelet, a new new “shortie” scarf (designed a little longer as created via request from my mom and grandma.)

(And did I mention I have a real world job, that seems to collide with knitting time…)

I actually had a great weekend that wasn’t fully knitting. I met two girl friends for brunch, Kaitlyn and RBK. We continued on to a local yarn shop, Patricia’s Yarns, in Hoboken. It was the store’s 7th birthday. It’s run by a young married couple. It’s nice because even the husband, who doesn’t knit, is totally into their shop and helping you pick out yarn.

RBK's first cowl

RBK bought her first skein of yarn to learn to knit. She has moderately expensive taste (and good taste!) right off the bat, but it was on sale…So that makes it ok, right?  She choose a nice Alpaca-Wool Blend in a super bulky. Her goal: To make a cowl. I found a couple of random colored balls that I also thought would make nice artsy cowls. (One of them is the Autumn Cowl)

On Sunday, I taught her to do a knitted cast-on, K2 P2 (knit 2 purl 2) ribbing and then stockinette stitch. She did great!

 

Though I love to lose hours in knitting, it was a great weekend that was out and about.

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Coffee & T Packaging

This morning, I like to think because of the good karma I received from spreading the gift of knitting, we made our first sale in our shop Coffee & T! I was so excited, that when I got the email at 6am, I bounced out of bed and began to put together our packaging.

I made washing instruction tags and I wanted to attached them to the item, without harming the item.I just bought new package of clothespins, so I added my favorite stamp, “knit happens.”  Our packaging has been born.

 

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Coffee & T Labels

I also made new shop labels to sew in the items. I used printable fabric sheets to print our logo on. I then infused the fabric onto a nice thick ribbon. The HB said it was still missing something, so I added some stitch work around the edges. It looks just crafty enough, but I like it.

Hopefully this is a blooming beginning to our etsy store!

Visit: CoffeeAndT.etsy.com

FO Joys!!

Hello world,

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My First Completed Sweater

 

I finished my first sweater and I’m so excited! The sweater is a Lion Brand pattern: Sketchbook Cardigan.  I used The LB Collection Superwash Merino in Dijon.  My sweater took a little under 4 full skeins.

I have the FO Bug! (FO = Finished Object.) I have a small basket of UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) that need completing. I am ready. I am motivated!

 

 

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My Summer Vest

I started a vest during my summer beach vacation, which was what I was knitting during the first post on this blog. That’s my next big project to complete. The pattern: Diagonal Front Vest is from Vogue Knitting magazine, summer 2011. This is a great issue of Vogue Knitting if you are looking for some cute cotton patterns to knit up.  I choose the Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Yellow.  (Lion Brand had a good sale, which is why they are getting all the love in this post.  It easy to get lives in NYC, and it’s affordable.)

 

 

It seems that the FO Bug is spilling over past knitting and into life in general.  Before work picks up in the next month, I’m trying to get everything wrapped up.  Cross all of my T’s and dot all of my I’s.  I have a couple videos to finish editing, a wedding scrapbook to complete before my first anniversary of August 28th, some labels to make for Tara and I’s Etsy Store: Coffeeandt.etsy.com.

Yesterday, our iPad cases were featured on Toxel.com for interesting/unique cases.  Check it out!

So, while I am busy finishing the unfinished, I hope this helps you get motivated to do the same!

 

The time to post is now?

So, during the past few weeks, there has been a crafting frenzy:  bags, tomato hats, hair pins, pressed flower pins and necklaces…The list goes on.

But now I am coming to a new dilemma.  Making a sale.  I am hoping that our store will catch on once it’s a shopping season.  The only problem is, the listing we pay for on etsy are only good for 3 months, and then we have to pay again, to re-list it.  So, Is it worth listing now, when everyone is really out enjoying the sunshine and not internet shopping or is it a good investment to list items as soon as possible?

Obviously if I don’t list anything, nothing will sell.  Then our apartment will get more stacks of items.  (On chairs, in baskets, under pillows, in closets, on desks, on counter tops…)  So profit will automatically =$0.

But on the flip side, I list now, say 10 new items.  That’s 10 new chances of making a sale and keeping our store on top, with new items.  However, that’s fees on 10 items and they won’t be new at potential shopping season.

So the thought remains….To list or no to list?

Grandma’s stash

Sewing Market Bags

Tara and I have been staying with my grandma for a few days now. Tara, my mom and I went  treasure hunting, looked through pressed flowers for pin back buttons and other pieces of jewelry.  Next on the list: sewing.

I found a great pattern for making fold-able market bags from 1977.With a little bit of updating, they were perfect for what we wanted to make.

Tara said “They were green before it was cool to be green!”  I love how no matter what the style or object, fashion is just a large circle.  If you keep it long enough, it will be wearable/usable again.

Along with the market bags, we also planned to make knitting needle and crochet hook cases.  These will be the first additions to our store that other knitters/crocheter may be interested in.  (What knitter wants to buy another knitter’s wearable, when they can just knit it themselves?)  I hope it’s at least interesting/inspiring to other knitters.

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Grandma's Motto

We began to scour my grandma’s cupboards for fabric to use in all of our endeavors. We found dresses from my childhood that were made of pretty fabric my grandma couldn’t get rid of,  lots of denim and lots of American fabrics. My grandpa used to dress as  Uncle Sam and ride his wooden horse in all of the holiday parades.  So that explained the whole section of American prints.

As we dug, my grandma said with a smile, “Now, you girls are ruining my chances!”

“Chances for what?” we replied.

“Whoever dies with the most fabric wins! ” she said pointing to a sign in her stash closet. …I think she was serious.  We replied again, “No grandma, you’ll still be in the running, after we clear out!”

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Finished Market Bags - check out Coffeeandt.etsy.com to purchase!

So, we cut, threaded, aligned and sewed for two days, trying to get the stash of fabric we chose down to a smaller pile so my husband wouldn’t have to move out when I took it all home (due to a lack of space in our 1 bedroom apartment). My grandma suggested space bags, the bags that you can suck out all of the air to take up less space. “Then he won’t notice how much you bring back with you!”

Before I left town, Brian’s friend asked him, “What are you going to do when she comes home with an Aztek full of crafts?” Brian replied, like the loving supporting husband he is, “I only need my instruments, so we’ll clear more space.”  And that’s what he did. When I finally took the drive back home, I came home to a clean, de-cluttered home: Ready for my 15 bags of fabric, flowers, yarn and so on….

So, to wrap up my wonderful trip back to Ohio, that makes me think I could leave my job and craft for the rest of my life, because who needs money?…or food?…or electricity….oh wait.  My sewing machine does.

EITHER WAY.  I had a great time spending 5 or 6 days with my grandma, Tara and my mom, Tiffin.  It’s so motivating and inspiring being around so many wonderful women.  Maybe someday, I can stay home and craft.  Without the guilt of needing to paying bills.

Encyclopedia-bot-tanica

by CourTney & Tara

Wall of phone books

CourTney:  New day, new adventure.  Tara has joined the Craftapaloza, as she coined it.  Today’s goal: pressed flower pin-back buttons.  I remember my Master Gardener grandma used to press the flowers from her garden, so using the family motto, I asked if she had anything to spare.

G’ma led us back to her painting shop, where she used to teach.  It’s the perfect woman’s cave.

Tara:  Let me describe this Woman Cave.  First of all, it’s in a finished area of a backyard barn, just like the typical Americana image you have in your head.  In this barn is every piece of craft paraphernalia you could ever need, but most of all it has something so desirable one couldn’t possibly put a price on it…peace and quiet.

CourTney:  As we walked through the door, she handed us an empty phone book to collect our bounty and told us to have at it.  Now, to give you a full understanding of the wall of flowers we are looking at, here’s a little phone book math.   All of the flowers are pressed and labeled inside phone books.  Each page contains about 10 flowers, each phone book has about 20 pages of flowers and there are at least 30 phone books, spanning the past 7 years.  So that’s about….6,000 flowers?

Tara looking through books

Tara:  Not only were thousands of flowers pressed between the pages of these full-sized phone books, but all of them were neatly labeled with the year they were grown, the scientific botanical name, and common name.  While CourT, her mom, Tiffin, and I were scouring the pages, Grandma Fran would tell us interesting facts about the plants and flowers we were to feature.  “The Lobelia is in the Campanulaceae family, which is a bell flower, and the one you’re using is Crystal Palace.  The blue maintains its color better than the others without using any dyes or watercolors.”  Her amazing knowledge deserved a clever nickname, so from Tiffin the name Grandmapedia was born and from me, “Encyclopediabotanica.”

Pressing Flowers into Buttons

CourTney:  In the end, we took away three full phone books of treasured pressed flowers, dating back to 2005.  We started to press groupings of the flower pin-back buttons and ended the day with about five collections.  However, we still have hundreds of flowers left to make so many more.

The buttons turned out great.  You can wear them as pins, necklace charms, hair pins, bracelet closures or any other way you can think of.

 

Finished button set

 

Check out our etsy store Coffeeandt.etsy.com in the next week, to get a set!  And now you will know the history and family time behind them.

 

The Treasure Hunt

While growing up I learned that if I ever need anything in the stuff/craft world, I was to always check with grandma and grandpa first. They have everything in the world! (and I am NOT exaggerating).

I decided to go home, to Ohio for a crafty visit with my grandma. I need supplies of sorts and using my family motto, I’m checking with grandma first. I decided to stay for a couple days. My mom lives right down the road, so she decided to join us in our treasure hunt. With her, she brought a whole box of clock parts and old mirrors because they were neat and have potential. And YES! They do!

Fabric Boxes Labeled by Style

The first day we only had two hours, so we thought fabric was a safe place to start. So we thought…. My mom and I open a few cabinets that have yards of fabric sorted by color and type. Then we moved on to a sets of dresser drawers. Then to a room full of boxes sorted by style and print.

 

While sorting through fabric, my mom begins the hunt for a gromit punch. ( a handheld device for putting metal rings in material, ie. Shoelace holes). She finds 3. In the mean time, my grandma is searching in another part of my grandpa’s workshop for gromits and finds fossilized sea shells, a rock tumbler, rocks that have been tumbled and some to tumble, a full box of old keys, boxes of leather from a shop that closed and boxes of zipper parts, because you never know when….

Clock Parts

The more we searched, the more ideas we got for new projects.  So, at this moment, I am sewing knitting needle cases, crochet hook cases, market bags, and purses.  I will be making art with clock and zipper parts and maybe some jewelry.  Also, I found gromits, snaps, pins, alligator clips, hair pins, etc etc etc.

After only two hours, I was starting to get a headache from all of the ideas that were filling my brain!  Tara will be joining the hunt soon.  Next on the list, pressed flowers for pin back buttons.  Maybe my grandma has some pressed already.  You never know but you always ask first.

Babies on my brain

No, I’m not pregnant. Just to clarify.

It’s been a very crafty whirlwind! I discovered the world of babies (minus the fetus and pregnancy cravings.) I am currently preparing for a couple of baby showers.20110719-111523.jpg

I was never really into making baby things until I realized, I can make the most ridiculous items that look like fun to make, but no respectable adult would ever wear. It’s not like babies get to decide what their outfit is for the day. They just lie there while you dress them up as cute little animals or vegetables or flowers and then they just don’t care! Plus I can whip up a baby hat in only 3 episodes of Fringe.

 

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Goodbye to the days of photographing your naked baby on a animal skinned rug and hello to Auntie CourTney’s outlandish baby clothes. Remember the classic bunny suit from The Christmas Story? (if not, Google it NOW)

 

Damn it feels good to be a knitter.

 

 

Kitty cats & Yarn balls…

There has always been a connection between cats and yarn. Thinking of a kitten playing with a ball of yarn isn’t such an outlandish thought. They go hand in hand.

Meet my kitty, Karma. She has a love for yarn. If I am knitting on the couch, she will attempt to sit on my arms while I’m knitting. If I leave her at home with yarn in a basket, it will soon be all over our apartment. Up the stairs, down the stairs, around the table, through the chair legs, back up the stairs, under the bed….

She’s a very supportive kitty. Many of times, I finished a project and only had Karma to show. She doesn’t judge when my stitches aren’t perfect, so it’s a good audience.

Every time I pull out the yarn swift to ball up a new yarn, she comes a running and sits and watches (like this morning).

Then one day, I began to wonder…does Karma love yarn…or does she envy yarn? Maybe she is angry at the amount of time I spend with yarn instead of her. Is she cuddling up with me and my yarn on the couch or is she trying to stop me from knitting? Is she being cute and chasing a ball of yarn or is she attempting to destroy and hide it??

That’s the thing about cats. You never really know what they are thinking.

48 hours of distractions and a Flea Market?

My 48 hours are up. I was pretty successful, given the amount of tasks I gave myself. I did get a little sidetracked on Saturday and went to the Brooklyn Flea Market.

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Mason Jars

Here’s my issue with the “flea markets” in the city. Now, let me preface this with the small fact that I grew up in Ohio. Flea markets in Ohio are great. They’re like huge treasure hunts. Nothing is organized and super pretty and boutique like. No. It’s like junk in boxes on tables in a town called Roger. Stuff is dirt cheap and you can find great treasures (or a bunch of junk.) They are fantastic. Now, the flea market in Brooklyn is very pretty and organized. The first thing I have learned to check when entering a new flea market is the price of mason jars. In the city, a mason jar is a “rare find” and “vintage” and worth $8!! Now, if I were to visit my friend Christine (in Ohio), who is living in her grandparents home, she could run down to her basement and pull out 12 mason jars from the jelly room, no problem. Do you think Ohioans could get away with selling mason jars for $8 in Ohio?? Hell no. So, keeping the $8 mason jar price point in mind, you can imagine how the rest of the “flea market” was priced.

This one vendor had some fantastic Ukuleles made of cigar boxes. I immediately went for the instrument thinking about a certain husband and what holiday would be coming up next. That is, until I saw the price point…. $200 to $400!!! Now, they were beautiful and a cool concept, but later, when I told the HB about my find, he told me (smirking at the $400 cigar box Uke) you could buy a professional Ukulele (yes, they exist) at that price. But what’s the fun in that. The cigar box one was cool.

So, this “flea market” was not a flea market at all, but an outdoor craft fair boutique. I would never go to a flea market and pay $40 for an old shirt. It’s just not the way I was raised. So, to all of my creative family and friends, save all of your mason jars and cigar boxes, I’m comin’ home to make items with you and then bringing them back to the city!

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2-at-a-time sleeves

 

Back to the craft weekend. After about 26 hours of knitting (1/2 of season 2 of Fringe, part of season 1 of Breaking Bad), I ALMOST got my sleeves done. I have just about 24 rows of decreases to do on each.

 

And buttons! Oh wow. I will start by saying I occupied about 5 hours of my time making buttons. It was invigorating. I started off with the normal paper ones, then decided to experiment with the silk scarves. After some fooling around, that was quite successful. very very pretty.

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Pinback buttons on CoffeeAndT.etsy.com

Then I had a thought…. Ribbon, Yarn, Thread!

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Fabric Buttons!

I began to try to press everything! Some were very great while other ended up looking like spider legs… (which is very bad if you know my level of hate for spiders) You can check them all out in our store: CoffeeAndT.etsy.com

Then, I got sidetracked again. On Sunday, they had a yoga class in the park. The payment of the class was a donation to the park for planting flowers. I convinced my friend Kyle to go with me (even though he’s never tried yoga). Lucky for him there were lots of young ladies in the class, so everybody won.

The weekend was wrapped with a quick trip to the bar. The HB (who got home at a decent time from work) wanted to be social, but I explained to him that I needed to craft and finish my 48 hours. So we compromised by going to a bar with sufficient light, so I could knit. I started a new neck warmer (very masculine colors) so it could be the newest addition to the store. The beer smell is free, no additional cost. I wasn’t about to haul my merino wool sweater to the bar….that would just be crazy.

So, all in all, my 48 hours were eventful and full of craft. Hmm…what will next weekend hold?