Saturday, September 29, 2007

Garlic

If you're a garlic fan, or even have a mild appreciation for its use in food, then you should definitely check out the Garlic Festival in Saugerties, NY. It's seriously awesome. There are people selling garlic braids, relishes, jellies, pickles, sauces, and other cooking goodies packed with garlic and spices. The food vendors are out of this world too. You can find Greek, Mexican, Creole, Italian, and many others. If you're adventurous you can even try some garlic ice cream. Your tastebuds will be in heaven.

The reason that I know about the Garlic Festival is because my family band was hired to play one day of the festival last year. This year we're back for two days.... and I wish I had more money to spend on all the good food! Seriously. I could eat enough everyday to easily go up a few pants sizes. So good..... so good!

I took every chance between sets to wander through the vendors. Rich pesto, hot pepper garlic spread, and roasted garlic spread were todays picks. And oh am I looking forward to tomorrow....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stash

The following is a multiple choice question. Select the answer you think is correct.
1)My stash is going to ______
  • a) eat me
  • b) unleash a revolt
  • c) take over my home and hold me hostage
  • d) all of the above

I've heard of this "stash" problem from other knitters. In the past it always gave me a chuckle to hear such absurd things. How can stash actually take over? I mean come on, dude! It's only fiber. I mean really. Yeah right. That was before I woke up the other day to find the bag of gray alpaca I had stored under my bed was tapping me on the shoulder (apparently I was taking up its room). Gosh! I took a hard look around my bedroom then..... yarn in a basket on the shelf... boxes under my bed, a few bags at the foot of my bed, three bags of works in progress... where did it all come from! Since that eye opening day I have kept my fingers busy whenever possible, working on projects so I can get to the yarn in my stash. I find that my efforts might, however, be in vain. Even as I work on my current projects and scheme about what to make with the gray alpaca I am scanning through web sites looking for more yarn. More stash! Am I nuts??! No.... I'm a knitter. And I LOVE it!!! ;)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blue Confetti

(left: Blue Confetti bracelet—4mm to 6mm glass, crystal, and metal beads on a 7.5" sterling silver chain. Design is available on my Etsy Shop.)

•JEWELRY•
I'm sooooo tempted to keep the Blue Confetti bracelet that I posted on my shop last night. It's so glittery! Oooo! Sparkles! lol I might make myself a smaller version at some point, we'll see. Any bracelets I make to sell are too big for me to decide to keep and wear. This was a huge problem in my designing for a while. I constantly forgot that I have baby wrists and would measure everything against me and people would go to pick up the jewelry and ask if it was a child's bracelet. Yeah.... so now I make all bracelets a standard 7.5" which slips over my hand that is 6.75" at its widest point.

•THE SHOP•
Coming soon (meaning hopefully within the next week or two) is going to be a collection of crocheted hats. It's getting to be that time of year when I'm thinking about snuggling down in cozy clothes for the cooler months. I'm lovin' the nice 60ยบ weather we've been having here on the island.

Anyway... the hats will be made out of thin cotton yarn (not really supper warm, but still.... they're cool) and will typically feature two colors in each. Patterns are not set in stone, so each hat will vary. I'm thinking that I would like to do a few with a Celtic theme to them..... think so knotwork designs and things of that nature. Once I have a few hats posted I'll list available yarn colors and may consider special orders, but don't hold me to that. I tend to bite off more than I can chew lol

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Exhaustion

(Left: "Dryad" earrings from the Fantasy Collection. This design is available on my Etsy Shop.)

Life sure is tiring... No kidding, right? But does it really have to go a mile a minute all the time?! Yes, I'm complaining.... and it feels great! ;)

It started with last weekend. If you read my last blog you'll know that we, my family band, were performing at a local fair, which was a very loooonng gig. We had to be at the fairground at 10am and we left around 5:30 or 6pm. Monday it was back to work, Tuesday back to teaching dance, Wednesday another gig and a Mets game, Thursday teaching and a gig, Friday work, and Saturday another all day gig at the Blues Fest. That brings us to today, Sunday, and another gig this after noon. OK, so I can't really complain too much. I've been having fun despite the lack of sleep from early mornings and late nights. People say that musicians work "the other 9 to 5," but to me it seems that working class musicians really work 20 hour days. If I was working that supposed other "9 to 5" at least there would be sleep figured in there somewhere!

There are no gigs lined up for the coming week,just next weekend. For me this means I'll have a few days to dedicate to making more jewelry. My fingers are really itching to make some more stitch markers. I've got a bunch of copper wire that I want to twist and hammer out so that it holds its shape and see what I can do with that. As a jewelry designer I want to branch out a bit more and play with some new materials. As a musician I also want to branch out and try something new, but I'm not certain about what I'd like to do first.... That's my problem... I have so many interests I don't know where to focus! And that is probably the real reason I'm so exhausted. It's not all the performing that I should be complaining about, it's me pushing myself to keep going all day because I want to do so much.

And here I go to start another one of those days.... And I'm going to welcome it with open arms. Hello world! Here I come! ;)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hooked on Etsy

(left: Confetti Jewelry Set—Sterling silver & fire-polished crystals)

•JEWELRY•
Custom made to order! I had a lot of fun doing just that. The photo at left shows the "Confetti" jewelry set that I designed. I did the bracelet a few weeks ago and posted it on my Etsy Shop. Upon request from a buyer I made the earrings and necklace to complete the set. Over the years I have done custom designs for various people, mostly friends or family or others that I have met in person. This was the first custom order that I have agreed to do online, however. It feels like a completely different ballgame. When you meet someone in person, at least once, you can get an idea of what they may like, what their sense of style is, etc. Doing a request like this online means that you are taking the risk that the buyer will like what you've done. Anyway... I enjoyed it. (Oh, and as a side note.... the customer did like this set and it will soon be arriving in her mailbox :) )

I've been busy, busy, busy with jewelry in the last few days.... few weeks really. My Etsy Shop is getting regular updates. I've been trying to do at least one new item everyday, or every other day when I can. I'm getting rid of a lot of the older images that were taken on a fuzzy black background and without any real artistic flair. It's impossible (for me) to get a good photo of my jewelry and fit the entire piece in the picture. I found that it works much better to just focus on one aspect that will [hopefully] catch the viewer's interest and lead them to click on the thumbnail for more information. Then I can present photos showing more detail and the whole design. It sure took me long enough to figure it all out LOL

Oh... I have to admit. I have a new addiction. I'm hooked on Etsy. As I mentioned already, I've been adding and updating my shop nearly everyday. Besides that I've joined the Etsy Love networking site. It's kinda like being on MySpace, only everyone is either an indie designer or supporter. OK, so that's a big difference, but you can go on an write blogs, add friends, join groups and forums, and show off all your cool crafts. Some of the stuff I'm found.... Ooooo! ::squeal:: It's awesome!


•MUSIC & LIFE•
It's really impossible to separate music and life at the present moment. I had gigs last Saturday and Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and this Saturday and Sunday. I feel like I've been going nonstop. On one hand that's good. It means that I'm not being a completely lazy person, I'm making money, and making up for the fact that I lack a "real job."

And on that note.... I really should be heading to bed. Tomorrow is another early gig day....

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Stitch Markers

Thanks to one member of the Lime & Violet forum, I decided to try my hand at making stitch markers. I have to say that they are quite addicting! I made about 8 sets or so before deciding I'd better pack it in for the day. A few of the sets are featured on my Etsy Shop now. Let me know what you think about them, namely the fancy sterling silver "S" hook looking style. Feedback, or helpful criticism is always appreciated. That goes this and any other designs as well.


•MUSIC•
The month of September is like a whirlwind of gigs. I performed yesterday at a local 1700's themed craft fair and am going back there today. (Whew! Wish it was over. I'll say way in a minute.) This coming Wednesday another gig (followed by a Mets game), Thursday another gig, then Saturday a gig.... and the cycle keeps going. My July music schedule looked almost as busy and took the band into several different states, but then it was summer vacation. All the gigging in September is taking place around teaching dance and music lessons. And in the middle of all that I try to find time to see my boyfriend, knit, and make jewelry. Recently I've been feeling like I can't spare a minute to breathe!

About this gig we're doing this weekend.... It's a small affair really. Something I've grown up playing at since we're local to it. It might have been one of the first gigs we started playing as a family band. I'd say we've played there for around 8 years, possibly 9. That would put me around 14 years old when we started, now I'm 23. I feel like I've grown up at this fair. I remember always having mixed feelings about it coming around. It carried both an air of excitement and the certain doom of knowing that school started for me after the weekend festivities were over. As I got involved with making jewelry I would look forward eagerly to the fair, my one chance to sell my designs. This year I found myself looking forward to the fair and prepping my jewelry as I had gotten into the habit of doing. All was good. It would be a relaxing weekend of hanging out playing music, catching up with old friends we'd made over the years, and eating too much roasted corn. Boy was I mistaken. New people had taken over the fair this year. Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. There were about twice as many vendors, the only positive thing I can pinpoint for the year. Someone in charge decided to hire two electric local bar bands to play in the center of the fair circle each day. When they were playing we couldn't compete with the noise. I'll tell ya, there's nothing better to keep with the mood of the 1700s than listening to a top 40 country band all day. It was just lovely. (Imagine the sarcasm dripping from my voice here.) All the other musicians that perform there every year complained about the same, they couldn't play. The reinactment people were less than thrilled as well. So yeah, we're going back today. I expect it will be just the same as yesterday and I don't expect we'll be asked back again next year. It's so crummy when a tradition is tossed to the wind.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

And on we go

•JEWELRY•

(left: "Classical" from the Fiddlehead Earring Collection. Check it out on my
Etsy Shop)

Good bye Homegrown Market. Hello Etsy!
I decided to "close the doors" on my Homegrown Market shop today. There was just too much going wrong with it. Images weren't loading, I was being denied access to my account, all sorts of unknown errors.... enough is enough! So for now I have all of my sales going through Etsy, which seems to work pretty good so far.

Instead of having a shopping cart on my main web site, I've decided that (for now at least) it would be better for me to have links to the Etsy Store for people to buy. Eventually I would like to have transactions able to take place directly trhough my site. We'll see what the future brings.


•KNITTING•
I'm not getting enough time to knit!! ::wail with some hair pulling:: Seriously, where has my knitting time gone? I had this romantic notion that after I graduated I'd have so much free time during the day and I could sit around and knit for hours.... Yeah. Right. At least my knitting time seems to have been replaced by things I love and that are still creative, namely my jewelry making.

Even though I can sit here and bemoan the lack of knitting time I have on a daily basis, my knitting is really not suffering. I'm still knitting the Monkey Socks, which I have come to love. (I finished the first sock and am in the middle of the ankle on the second.) And I also have the sweater for my sister on the needles. That, right now, is my number one knitting priority since it's a gift.

All is good :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shameless Self Promotion

(at left: "Cinderella" earrings from the "Fantasy" Earring Collection by Jewelry by FiddleLee. Look for the design coming soon to the Etsy Shop, www.fiddlelee.etsy.com)

•JEWELRY•

Wire and crystals and gemstones oh my! I've been spending almost all my waking hours recently doing something related to my jewelry. Typically my day goes thus: coffee, make jewelry, photograph jewelry, run, make jewelry, upload jewelry pics, work on website, break to eat, continue in same manner, possibly entertain the idea of relaxing with knitting at some point. Welcome to my life.... and the life of many other artists, I'm sure. No, I'm not complaining. I LOVE the freedom of creativity. It's safe to assume that I am fond of the freedom and rewards of art because I'm not in it for the hoards of money it's making me. Eventually I would like to make enough between the music and jewelry that I could support my share of living expenses, but that's a dream. For now it's a struggle.

Anyway, everyone go have a look at my Etsy site! It's just a short click away at http://www.fiddlelee.etsy.com. Now how's that for some shameless self promotion? ;)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Down to Business

JEWELRY
I took the jump and did it... I got a Pay Pal account. Imagine! ;) I thought it might be beneficial to business on the Etsy Store. I hear so much positive feedback from other Etsy Shop owners, but the site hasn't given me any reason to jump up and down yet. Fingers are still crossed that it will pick up now that I can give buyers the option of paying with Pay Pal or credit card. I know I personally would feel better buying from someone that accepted those payment methods rather than just personal checks or money orders. Who knows what kind of person they are! I mean, obviously there are plenty of awesome independent artists who are true to their word and do their best to make sure their customers are 100% satisfied. But how can you tell over the internet? Who can judge which individual is a scam artist and will take the money and run? Pay Pal and credit cards don't completely clear away this possibility, but it does remove some doubt. At least it does in my mind when I am the buyer.

Besides smoothing out payment options, I've also been busy designing some new jewelry for existing collections and forming up some new themes as well. Unfortunately I don't have photos for everything yet, and even the pieces that are photographed aren't all online since the process of getting it all up is far from simple! (Either it's time consuming for everyone, or I'm just a complete dummy.) My favorite designs/collections at the moment are the "Fantasy" Earrings and the . So far I have several pairs of earrings for "Fantasy," but the "Hint of Magic" bracelets are only newly born and have only 2 designs ("Enchantress" & "Fairy Godmother"). My plan is to name all the earrings in "Fantasy" after characters, places, and ideas from folk and fairy tales. The will be named along the same order with titles like wizard, enchantress, fairy, sprite, etc. All the kind of thing I have been fascinated by since I was a little kid.


•KNITTING•
My sister wants a sweater. I was shocked at the news. My family, with the exception of mom, never asks for "knit shit." Annalee, my younger sister, has been the recipient of a few knitted items that she loved for a time and then her tastes changed, which is completely normal and I can't fault her for. Typically when I knit things for myself my taste has changed by the time I've completed the project. I'm trying to decide whether I fit more into the process knitter or product knitter category. Don't know.....
Anyway, Annalee requested a sweater that wasn't "fartsy," could match a lot of things, was comfortable, and that she could wear to work. I found a pattern I thought was appropriate, bought the yarn, and then did the dreaded gauge swatch. I don't know what it is about me, but I typically knit very loose. If the pattern calls for size 9 needles I do the first gauge swatch with size 7s and it's usually right on the mark. This time the pattern called for size 9s on bulky weight yarn. Even with my tendency to knit loose I couldn't see it working, so I went with 9. My 15 sts measured 5 inches instead of the required 4. Lovely. It was also so stiff that if I knitted the whole sweater on these needles and just changed the cast on, and shaping to fit the sweater would be able to stand up on its own. No way. So now I'm in the process of resizing and altering the pattern as I go. I have exactly one month to finish it before sister's birthday. It's currently 4 inches long. But I love deadlines :)