Friday, March 27, 2015

Craftsman, Not Artist

Here is my new Etsy About Page:

Once upon a time my family was having a New Years party.  They were always day long, open house affairs with lots of good food, hilarious conversation, with everyone jamming into the kitchen even if there was plenty of room elsewhere.  I stood to the side one evening (I couldn't have been more than 13 years old) and my Mom's friend, Sue, asked me if I wanted to learn how to knit.  Sue is a smiling, petite woman with curly hair and round glasses, and an acute case of what she calls "Crafting ADD", where she learns a new craft, sewing, spinning, embroidery (in later years she would teach my mother and I how to weave on two of her three looms), silk painting, whatever she could find, and then work at it until she is an expert.  She told me to grab some yarn and needles (while there were no knitters in my family at the time, we were crafty enough to have the supplies floating around the house) and sat me down in the same kitchen to learn how to knit.  She taught me a long tail cast on, and then pulled it all out so I could do it myself from the beginning.  She told me it didn't matter if my knitting was a mess, because my hands didn't know what they were doing yet, and I may want to frame this little piece of knitting because I'll never be able to knit like that once I get the hang of it.  She kept telling me to relax my shoulders, and that I would hurt myself if I was too tense, and how sometimes she had to pull the yarn off her own needles to tell herself it really doesn't matter if she drops a stitch.  And I knit.  I really did.  And it was wonderful
   I had had a little foray into crochet, but that didn't really work for me.  Mostly because I couldn't follow a pattern, and I made many flower pot like hats out of three strands of red heart yarn.  But this was new, and fascinating.  I knit that little piece of red fabric, and later I made scarfs.  It's all you can do, after all, when patterns are still a confusion to me, and I can only knit in squares from whatever comes out of my head.  So I knit that scarf, and since I no longer had Sue to guide me, I dug up a book that could teach me how to purl.  I was on a roll then!  Then I learns what knitside and purlside looked like, I knit myself a checkered scarf (I was so proud of that thing though I couldn't figure out why there was a hole there that didn't pull out.  I realized later it was a yarn over that snuck in.)  I "discovered" ribbing, and how it stretched, and made a whole scarf out of my "new" invention.  I even did this sort of slip stitched tube on one needle.  But then I took things to a whole new level:  I bought garbage bags of discounted, faded blue yarn, and decided I would make a blanket.  Again, I didn't know anything about patterns, so I cast on something like 400 stitches on size 10 needles and hoped that was enough.  It was MASSIVE.  I made 20x25 squares, and knit like there was no tomorrow, no do overs.  I was so proud when I could show it to Sue, and she smiled and said, "Anne, you made fabric!!!"

   Then came knitting patterns online.  It would have been around or before 2008, when I was watching Doctor Who and David Tennant was the coolest thing since the slurpee machine.  I found a website that was full of crafts that people had made about the show, and sure enough there was a pattern for the wristwarmers Rose Tyler wore in "Doomsday."  I wanted to make them so bad.  After all, there was the pattern, I could get the yarn, and there was nothing, nothing at all to stop me.  In one fell swoop I learned how to cable knit, knit in the round, and read a pattern, and I sat down to Miss Marple and made it so.  I was ridiculously pleased.

   Things only jumped off from there.  I paused from knitting to other things, jewelry making (I spent most of my time rearranging the glass beads into pleasing color sets anyways), embroidery (So. Many. Flower sacks.) and a bit of weaving.  But knitting remains my favorite, all with the mantra "It doesn't matter how long it takes, it can happen.  It may not happen like you wanted it in the beginning, but if you have yarn and a basic theory, it can be done."  Then I learned two at a time socks, and the joy of the circular needle.  After that, I found my great crafting love, fair isle, which I am still smitten with years later.  I am so very grateful that God has given me this work to do, even as a hobby, to be able to make beautiful things, for others as well as myself.  Let's face it, if you knit as much as I do, keeping it all for me is utter nonsense.  A girl can only have so many beanies before her friends and family have her committed.  So thanks for keeping the craftsmanship alive.


Shop Owner,
Avid Butter Spreader

P.S.  My friend Sue has an etsy shop too,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CUSTOM ORDER Loki Hat and Scarf Set

Last fall I received a request for a custom order.  These always get me excited, but don't often come through.  But this one did!  She was a lovely girl, and had very simple specifications:   She wanted it to be in green, black, and gold.  She wanted the hat to her measurements, and the scarf long with tassels.  And she even wanted the higher quality yarn!  It was a treat to do business with her.  So I went to the store and got some lovely emerald green yarn (Cascade is the company name)  that I had worked with before on a scarf for my brother and just happens to SMELL AMAZING and  the black and gold I got from a company calling itself "Aslan Trends" which was interesting.  I opted for a sort of dusky light brown instead of yellow gold, because whenever I held up a yellow to that green it yelled GREEN BAY PACKERS and I really, really didn't want to go there.  So I didn't, and it turned out wonderfully.  

Here we are before completion, and putting the tassels on.  

I mostly knit this hat while watching "Spider-man 2" for the first time.  

That would be me.  And a scarf.

Did I say how much I had wanted to make a Loki scarf?  I've had a plan in the back of my mind for one, but never got around to it, and all of the sudden I was getting PAID to to it!  Best thing ever!

And here is the scarf when it is completely finished!  I loved the tassels.  I knotted the ends of each one, though I didn't get a picture of that.  

...And the back.  Which is the same as the front, really.  

So I sent it off, hoping that my well-smelling darling would lead a happy and prosperous life, when some months later I received this:  

"Hey i figured I would just send you a little note. The weather has dropped to minus 20 below here in frost Iowa, and I am still running around nice and toasty warm in my hand crafted loki hat and scarf. I know a lot of buyers don't say much after they get their items, but I just wanted to say again how awesome this set is. The colors are still beautiful, and the yarn choice is silky soft and freakishly warm ( seriously, my cats nest on them like wombat in heat when I get home!) and it's stood up to my vigorous outdoor life. It's subtly geeky without screaming " I am a total dweeb! Please mug me!" And I always gets lots of compliments. and I know a lot of thought went into making this. And I appreciate it. It shows in every fuzzy loki stich. so, thanks again for making something amazing, geeky and frighteningly warm. Keep it up."

I couldn't believe it!  I was on vacation at the time in New Zealand (at the cafe on the Waitangi grounds, to be precise) and you could have knocked me over with a feather.  Positive feedback is the best.  

If you like this hat and would like to see some of my other work, or would like to custom order one for yourself, please visit .