My Virtual Sanity
Have you ever felt the need to share your thoughts with virtual strangers just so you can pretend that you have adult conversations during the day? Well, that's what I'm about to do. Be prepaired for my life as a stay at home, obsessive knitter, and my attempts to stay connected with the rest of the world.
- Name: Dawn
- Location: Denver, Colorado, United States
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I feel a bit more profound when I am limited to the 200 words (or whatever it is). I have to boil it all down to just the facts. It's nice to be able to just put up that one sentence that sounded so great without feeling like I need an entire blog post with pictures. If you ever wondered what my crazy life is like with a yarn shop and 5 little kiddos, feel free to follow me.
<----- Or, you can read it on the side bar over there, right under my etsy shop pictures ^.^
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The blanket that never ends
This is the Mason Dixon Miter Square blanket from their first book. I have 7 different colorways in there and it promises to be truly eclectic. Lots of pink. Just perfect for a girly girl like Shaya.
I counted last night and I have 36 squares. That's enough for 3 big squares wide and 3 long. DH and I layed it out and I think we need 1 more row of big squares long. That means I need 12 more squares. . . Oh well, maybe it'll be done before next Christmas. Blocked and with a boarder and all!
Monday, January 26, 2009
That man's a keeper
"Would you teach me to knit?"
What? What was that? The man who has admired my knitting, but generally shown absolutely no interest in anything yarn related wants to learn to knit?!
"You like it so much that I think I should try it. Plus I love you and I should know more about the things you like"
Well, I can't think of a thing sexier than that. Not only does the man want to learn to knit, but he wants to learn so he can be closer to me. That man's a keeper. Forget the fact that he supports our family, or that he has worked 2 jobs, or that he tells me constantly that he adores me. That statement right there speaks love on a whole new level.
I spent the evening happily snuggled up next to him while he knit away with a pair of size 8 bamboo double pointed needles with rubber bands on the ends and a skein of Shetland Chunky.
Wouldn't you know, but DH is GOOD! Check out that swatch. That was his very first knitting ever. He even did the long tail cast on.
I'm so proud!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
On the Docket
I get so many emails asking what I have in the works and what day I relist yarns in my store, that I thought it might be a good idea to let you all know what I'm working on, so if you see something you might be interested in, you won't miss out! Look out for these yarns in the shop this week.
Blood Orange Angora Blend Bulky Weight
Pearl White Silk Lace Weight
Country Blue Lace Weight Extra Fine Merino Wool
Mint Lace Weight Cashmere
Goldilocks Lace Weight Extra Fine Merino Wool
Peachy Pink Fingering Weight Angora Blend
Chartreuse DK Weight Wool
Milk Chocolate Extra Fine Merino Worsted Weight
Waiting to be skeined:
Cranberry Red Lace Weight Extra Fine Merino Wool
Ice Blue Green Lace Weight Silk Cashmere
Brick Red Tweed Fingering Weight Wool Acrylic Blend
P.S That cute critter at the top is Angie the Angora Rabbit. She's a member of my Fiber Friends collection of illustrations.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Happy Birthday Baby Girl
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
In order to go along with our new philosophy of cooking more from scratch and saving money, and I suppose because I didn't have enough craziness in my life. I have baked all of the bread in our house for about the last 4 or 5 months. When I first started off, my bread really sucked. I made at least a half a dozen bricks instead of bread. But gradually I have improved to the point that my family raves over my bread. I make dinner rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and bread all from the same recipe. This is why I call it my "everything" bread. I have yet to use it as pizza crust, but I have a feeling it might be pretty good as that too.
Dawn's Everything Bread:
(Makes 2 loaves)
1 Cup warm water (I nuke mine in the microwave for 1 minute)
1 /4 cup oil
1 /2 cup sugar (or honey, or brown sugar, your choice)
3 tsp yeast (not rapid rise)
1 1/2 cup Wheat flour
1 1/2 cup White flour
3/4 tsp salt
I bought a used bead maker from my local thrift shop that has a dough cycle and use this to mix and knead my dough. I find that even though I am capable of doing this myself, the bread maker does it better, more consistantly, and saves me time because I can just throw everything in the breadmaker and do other things.
Put the ingredients in your bread maker in the order they are listed. It is very important that the liquids and yeast go in before the flour or your dough will not rise correctly. Tell your machine to make dough (not bake) and let it do it's thing. When the dough has risen to the top of the pan, your bread is ready to shape into loaves. This takes a little longer than my dough cycle thinks it should, but it may be different in yours.
If you are making your bread by hand, I'd suggest that you watch The magic of Making Bread on Youtube. Notice how most of the flour gets mixed in while she's kneading, not in the bowl? That keeps you from adding too much flour. The yeasties can't grow if the dough is too stiff. The dough should be nice and warm and softer than play dough.
Once your dough has reached the top of the pan (or doubled in size) take your fist and puch right down the center. Put some flour on the counter and knead it a few times until all the air bubbles are out of it. Now divide it in half. Now you have a few choices. Each half will make either a loaf of bread, a pan of dinner rolls, 6-8 hamburger buns, or 6-8 hot dog buns depending on what you do with it.
Grease your pans and form your bread into the shape you want. I learned the technique on tucking the dough into the bottom to form nice round shapes from this video. Once your bread is in it's new shape and safely in it's new pans, cover it with a little bit of oil and some saran wrap, or a damp dish towel. Let it rise until it reaches the top of the pan (or has doubled in size).
Turn the oven to 350 (that's about 176 for my Metric friends). Put your pans into the cold oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
This bread has a very smooth, elastic texture and is quite sweet, much like the yummy Sara Lee breads :)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Depth of Field
Most of all, I want to take some of those artsy pictures where part of the item is in focus and the rest fades off into beautiful, lovely, fuzzyness. You know the ones. The ones that make you think "Wow! She must be some tallented knitter. That piece looks amazing!" or "I absolutely MUST have that yarn. It looks so soft. There is a "High class" element to these pictures. They make me swoon. But, alas, the ability to create them with anything other than photo editing software has aluded me... Until today.
I have tried and tried to do this, but it just magically happened yesterday when I was photographing a custom order. It was so easy. I was shocked. Why couldn't I do this before?! I was convinced that my camera was incapable of doing this, and yet, there it was. Perfect and lovely.
Try an experiment. Place your item on a white piece of card stock next to a window. Do not put the item in the direct path of the sunlight, just in the ambiant light that the window gives. Arange the item in a pleasing line leading away from you. Set the camera to the macro mode (it looks like a flower). Now set the camera right down on the table in front of the item. Don't hold the camera, don't put it on a tripod, just plunk it down on the table as close as the camera will let you get. Focus it on the very front of the item and click.
Did it work for you too?!
Next up, let's see if it works on my current WIP!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
This past year, I have obsessed about:
Ravelry - While I still love ravelry and use the pattern and yarn searches a lot, I do not find that I am on the forums, or looking at my profile 50 times a day anymore. In fact, it's kind of sad to say, but I think I have only logged on about once a week or less lately.
Dave Ramsey - I ran accross Dave in the Gonna Be Debt Free group on Ravelry. It was at a time when our household was desperately struggling to make the bills. I was gigantic pregnant with the twins and full of all those lovely hormones. I latched onto his plan like a life preserver. I still listen to Dave's show via streaming on his website most days while I work, and am following the Total Money Makeover plan religiously, but I no longer have to ravenously read everything I can find on it. I have read enough and learned enough that I am ok to coast now.
Diaperswappers - I have 3 children in diapers. Did I mention that? When I was working out the budget, I realized that with the Costco sized diapers we were buying, that we went through a box for each child a month. That added up to almost $100 a month JUST FOR DIAPERS! It felt like extortion. Now, I had never thought about using cloth diapers. They seemed disgusting and like WAY too much hastle, but when I could buy enough diapers to last me until we were done for the same amount as just 2 or 3 months worth of disposables, I was ready to give it a try. I found the diaperswappers website also through a forum group on Ravelry. I spent a lot of time reading on Diaperswappers and the internet at large about the types of diapers and how to take care of them, etc. In the end we went for the cheapest method. Prefolds and velcro PUL covers. We love them.
There was a brief shining moment when I thought that I could sew my own diapers and get fitted diapers for even less money, but then I realized that I'm pretty much a crappy seamstress. I may still do this, but I need some velcro and good elastic first. When I get around to that, this is the website I'm gonna use. I've got the old T-shirts etc already picked out...
There was also a brief shining moment when I thought I was going to knit wool soakers for the twins for all the time use and maybe even knit some to sell out of my recycled yarn. I got 2 pairs of pants done and then stalled out during the embellishing phase. I need to go pull those out and see if they will still fit the boys...
Hotcouponworld - I found Hotcouponworld through the forums on Diaperswappers. Since last spring I have become a coupon queen. It amazes me. I've managed to cut our grocery budget down to $60 a week (with occasional extra stock up money for the whole month) just by learning the complicated system of couponing and just generally paying attention to what I was doing. For a while there, I was organizing and trading coupons, obsessing about deals and getting free shampoo. In December I must have thought that I finally had the whole thing down enough have been in a holding pattern. I still watch the sales, and will scan the deals listed on Hotcouponworld, but I no longer visit 5 times a day. My coupons are generally in disaray and I've decided I simply DO NOT have time to trade. This decline in the coupon obsession was mostly because I felt that I was spending too much time on coupons and while it was saving us lots of money, I wasn't spending nearly enough time on my business and I was not making the amount I needed to fill my share of the budget. Which brings us to my current obsession...
Etsy - I had a customer on Ebay ask me why I didn't sell on Etsy. Really it came down to the fact that I didn't think that I could be profitable if I had to renew all the time in order to stay at the top of the searches, and that I was just plain scared to set my own price. I was comfortable and safe setting a minimum price on Ebay and letting the buyer determine the price. I didn't have to worry about the fact that I might be charging too much and no one would buy, or that I would be charging too little and not get what it was worth. Well, in the end, I really was charging too little and there was no way with the amount of time I have available that I could make what I needed. My production was obviously cut way down with the birth of the twins, and more and more sweaters were selling for the minimum price. Add to that the ever rising fees on Ebay and I took the plunge. I opened a shop on Etsy.
I started reading the forums there. I learned about taking good pictures, about promoting, about branding. Suddenly a whole new world was opened up. I have resisted standardizing my skein sizes because I wanted the buyer to get as long of a piece of unbroken yarn as possible, but this made setting a standard price very difficult. So, I bit the bullet and am standardizing the skein sizes and picking a price. I worked hard on creating beautiful, clear photographs worthy to be on Etsy. I expanded my stitch marker product line and added a new signature stitch marker style that I am working on promoting and branding. I am quite obsessed with the shape. It's called the Infinity Ring.
I can't seem to keep myself from staring at it. I love the simplicity of it, the elegance. I keep searching through beads and wondering how they will look in that shape. I want to make jewelry with it. I need more. Unfortunately I have restricted myself on the bead spending at the moment and so I have temperarily moved on to something else.
In the forums on Etsy, someone told me that my previous banner and logo looked like I had created them in Microsoft Paint, and that I could improve on them to make my shop more professional. Now, I have had Shawn as my logo almost since the beginning. I loved him. I thought he was perfect. This person obviously didn't know what they were talking about. Sure she was an actual professional graphics designer, but what did she know... Well, since I couldn't buy more beads, I pulled out some paper and a pen and began doodling Shawn. I drew dozens of sheep that first night. After a brief fight with the scanner that resulted in me totally reinstalling it, I had a new banner, a new avatar, and a whole new world of items to add to my shop.
Now in addition to the billions of possiblities for stitch markers I have running through my head, I have a whole line of Shawn and Fiber Friends notecards and Aceos, etc in the planning stages. I love them. They make me happy on a deep level that up until now only Extra Fine Merino ever has. I want to make more...
But now I have to go back to the store and retrieve my coupon notebook that also has all of my Dave Ramsey envelopes in it that I accidentally left at the checkout counter last night... I don't think the obsessions are helping my attention span here.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Happy New Year
It has been quite the year for us and I am afraid that the dear blog has fallen to the bottom of the priority list. Now that the twins are almost a year old, though, I have high hopes that I might actually be able to carve out some time to keep updated. It's funny how 2 little carpet sharks can take over your life, especially since I thought I had this whole mommy thing down with the previous 3 kiddlets.
Since the sharks are happy eating their cereal and the bigger kids are entertained by Scooby Doo, I will take this brief moment to post my 2009 goals before returning to dishes, laundry and dreaming of yarn and stitch markers.
1. Post on the blog. Frequently. More than once every 6 months. (Ya, I think I can handle that)
2. Finish the blankets for the 3 big kids that in my insanity I thought I could finish for Christmas and then totally gave up on. (Maybe for birthdays this year? Since Shaya's Birthday is this month, not much time).
3. Read Scriptures every day.
4. Don't get burried under a mountain of laundry or dirty dishes (wow, that's not too specific...I think I need to revisit Flylady)
1. Build and promote the Twice Sheared Sheep to be a recognizable brand on Etsy.
2. Standardize skein sizes and prices
3. Take stunning photos
4. Double my income (That would be FANTASTIC!)
Expect to see the blog change a bit as I reformat and finally keep up with the posting. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.