Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hookin’ Up! My Review of Poppy&Bee

Today is my day in the month-long Hookin’ Up project being run by Kathryn over at Crochet Concupiscence. I’m reviewing the blog Poppy&Bee, which is written by Natalie in New Zealand. I was excited to talk to Natalie, since New Zealand is one place I would LOVE to visit sometime. I’ve heard it is so beautiful there. One thing New Zealand is known for is its sheep, and where there are sheep there is YARN!

Poppy&Bee is a fairly new blog, just started in January as a companion site to Natalie’s online store of the same name. (Poppy & Bee are the nicknames of her two young kids by the way.) Natalie left her teaching job and is now a WAHM, selling her handmade crochet goodness and being home with her kids. What a great life! I know I at times fantasize about quitting my job and crocheting for a living, I bet others of you do too.

Reading Poppy&Bee, I feel like Natalie is taking me along on her journey as she establishes her business. Selling at craft markets, photo shoots for her website, networking with other crafters, oohing and ahhhing over new yarn. She writes with a nice friendly conversational tone, like we’re just having a chat over coffee (or would it be tea in NZ?) She has a fondness for owls, as do I, and this is my absolute favorite of her items:

Is that not ADORABLE!! (And the baby’s cute as a button too lol.) And she makes these hats in all sizes from newborn to adult. I’m in love.

I asked Natalie a few questions about herself so we could get to know her better…

When did you learn to crochet? I see that your blog is fairly new, what inspired you to start an online store for your crochet work?

I learned to crochet while still young, maybe 8 or 9 years old. My Mum and my grandmother are both very talented handcrafters and I was always watching them and trying out whatever they were doing. Crocheting took a very long hiatus until I had children, and I recently started up again after leaving full time work to be at home with Poppy and The Bee (my darling children).
The online store came about because I really am so used to being able to find things online myself, and enjoy the process of listing and presenting things online. I like being able to say ‘head over to’ – easy with no need for anyone to search through etsy or felt or anywhere else – even though I do list on those two sites as well. Being online allows me to spread the New Zealand Crochet love internationally too – and so many people are looking for the fine NZ yarns, and I am very lucky to have easy access to them here, and then to be able to make them into something yummy and handmade to share is fabulous!I would love to blog much more than I do, but I seem to run out of hours in the day to fit everything in! I’m working on a way to function without sleep – but am not having much luck yet.

(Natalie, if you find a way to do that, LET ME KNOW!)

What are your favorite things to make? Favorite yarn?

Ooooooh – favourite yarn at the moment is Possum (I know, I know – but in New Zealand they’re pests destroying our native vegetation). An amazing fibre with similar properties to Alpaca – and a lovely feel to it when working it. Mix it in with some NZ Merino and you have squishy yarn heaven. My fingers sigh when I start using it! Favourite things to make? I’m working through my hat phase at the moment – I have about 120 patterns in my ‘make me now!’ folder. I’d love LOVE to spend some more time on shawls and lace-weight work, but now that I sell what I make, it’s really hard to price them to sell with the hours and hours they take to make. The eternal dilemma of the crochet garment maker! I’ve started a pair of socks about three times, and love Amigurumi just for the frivolous distraction.
How hard or easy are you finding the WAHM life?

Loving it! I find it impossible to have enough hours in the day (particularly because I procrastinate about the sensible ‘Mum’ jobs like tidying, cleaning and groceries in favour of crocheting), but love being able to collect my children from school. The Bee tells me he loves having an ‘At the Door Mummy’ after school. I am a primary school teacher, and even though last year I taught where he went to school – I was never at his door at 3pm to collect him. Now he loves stumbling out for a big cuddle and tells me all about his day without having to wait. I do miss teaching and my cool and lovely colleagues I’m working on a way to incorporate it into crochet by running lessons and developing learn to crochet kits, but definitely don’t miss the hours and hours of prep!

So that’s Poppy&Bee! Natalie recently did an interview with New Zealand Handmade too, which you can read here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hookin' Up Project

So tomorrow is my day to post a blog review for the Hookin' Up project, which means that today MY blog is being reviewed. Jen at Rip It Good has written such a nice review of Twisted Strands, I'm so flattered, thank you Jen!

And be sure to check back here tomorrow when I'll tell you about a very special blog!

Friday, July 15, 2011

FO Friday July 17th

I missed FO Friday last week too, what with being out of town, so I haven't had a chance to tell you about my wire and bead crochet class. It was awesome! We spent about six hours working on our necklaces, alot of that time was spent just trying to decide on what beads we wanted to work with. Making the necklace was actually fairly simple, you thread the beads onto the wire and crochet a chain, moving a bead up into your stitch every once in a while, however close or far apart you want them. The instructor kept saying "there aren't any rules, just do what you like, very freeeform"--that doesn't work for left-brained me, I need structure and patterns to follow lol! Another woman in the group is an accountant and we got a good laugh out of our need for "rules".

I chose a copper colored wire (28 gauge) and red coral chips for my necklace, along with a lot of other red and pink beads. The necklace has 5 strands, and the instructor did all the finishing for me, made the clasp, etc. So here it is....


It's just the right length for how I like to wear necklaces:


I wore it to my yarn playgroup last night and someone asked me right off "oh did you crochet your necklace?" I've gotten several compliments on it, which is fun of course. And the store where I took the class has an AMAZING selection of beads, so I bought some more and I hope to be making some more jewelry soon!

Head over to Tami's Amis blog to check out more lovely FO's!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WIP Wednesday July 13th

I'm back! I missed out on WIP Wednesday last week due to a business trip--I really tried to write a post before I left but it just did not happen. Too many things to do to make sure the rest of the family survives while I'm gone! If you have kids and do any traveling, you'll know what I mean.

The best part of traveling is that I get more time to crochet! Not only on flights and while waiting in airports, but during conference talks as well. On all four of my flights I made sure to choose an aisle seat on the left side of the plane, so my elbow could stick out in the aisle and not bump a seatmate while I crochet. You do have to be careful that your elbow doesn't get smashed by the drink cart tho. Now how many people do you know who pick their seat assignment based on their crafting? Yes I am a geek, I know it and I don't apologize for it lol.

So, I got eight squares done for Knit-a-Square during my 3-day trip! Not bad at all. And I FINALLY used up all the purple wool yarn that I got in the yarn swap back in February! As you can see, I have now moved on to green:


I also started a new scarf this week, the pattern is Clapochet, it's a crocheted version of a knitted shawl called Clapotis. I'm making it narrower as a scarf instead of a shawl, like I did for the Crocus Bud. I'm just not a shawl person, but I do like accent scarves! The yarn is YUMMY, it's a merino/cashmere/nylon blend, soooo soft. And the color is such a rich variegated earth tone, I love it.


So that's what's on my hook this week. Be sure to check out lots more lovelies over at Tami's Amis!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hookin' Up!

I wanted to let you in on a fun crochet blog project going on this month! Hookin' Up is being hosted by Kathryn on her blog Crochet Concupiscence. Each day one of the participating bloggers will review the next blog on the list, and I'm looking forward to finding out about some cool new blogs that I haven't discovered yet! On July 16th, my humble blog will be reviewed on Rip It Good, and on the 17th I'll be reviewing Poppy and Bee. You can see the whole blog list here, and as of right now when I'm writing this post, there is still one spot left for someone on the 23rd, so if you have a crochet blog and would like to join in the fun, send Kathryn an email!

In other news, my bead crochet class was AWESOME today! I am currently wearing my new necklace, and even The Teenager really likes it! I don't know if I can wait till FO Friday to show it off, so you might be seeing it sooner lol.

Have a lovely weekend!

2011--Mid-Year Review

Since 2011 seems to be half-gone already, impossible as that seems, I decided I ought to check in on some of my goals that I set for myself way back in January, both for craft things and the other parts of my life. I seems I may have fallen just a teensy bit off the wagon in terms of some of the things I said I was going to do this year. Oops.

As far as crafting goals, there are 3 things I said I wanted to do this year:

1. Knit-a-Square: I want to make at least as many blanket squares as I did last year, which was 108. Total as of 7/1/11 is 43. So I'm not halfway, but I have some good stitching opportunities coming up in the form of business travel and vacation, so that square count should be heading up nicely over the rest of the summer.

2. Bead crochet: This is actually a goal left over from 2010 as well, but today is the day! I decided the only way I'd get started is to take a class, so from 11-5 today I shall be crocheting with wire and beads--I'm psyched!

3. Crochet myself a sweater: Uh-oh, I forgot that I set this goal. And I STILL have no idea what sweater I would make for myself! I need to stop dithering and just pick something and DO IT.

Other goals I set this year:

1. My physical well-being: I'm still walking about 4 days a week, and I feel pretty good. I have decided to try Tai Chi as an exercise to increase my balance and flexibility, I've got a couple of dvds, and if I just get out of this chair and stop reading everyone's great blogs, I might actually start doing the exercises!

2. Spiritual growth: I'm still listening to the Daily Audio Bible podcasts every day, so now I'm halfway through the Bible. This has been a real blessing to me, and I know I'll stick with it the rest of the year and finally have read the whole Bible!

Earlier in the year I was trying to set smaller monthly goals too, and let's just say that particular practice has fallen by the wayside lately. Life sure gets busy, doesn't it? But perhaps summer is a good time to try and get back in the swing of things, right? SO--in July I am going to set myself a goal of:

1. Use my tai chi dvds!

2. Clean up my spare bedroom/craft room--oh dear, it has gotten bad.

3. Do at least 2 family activities--hey, it's summer!

And how about all of you? Did you make any resolutions back in January? Let me know how you are doing on your own goals!

Friday, July 1, 2011

FO Friday July 1st

AUGH!! It's JULY! No no no, can't be.

Anyhoo, this week I can show you my finished prayer shawl:



I think it came out very nicely, and I finished it just in time, since I can't face having something big and hot on my lap when the weather tops 90 around here. The pattern can be found here if you are interested!

I also made a cute little something this week:

I think this heart is just adorable! I learned a new stitch too, the edge of the heart is done in Crab Stitch, also known as Reverse Single Crochet. It's not a hard stitch, although it feels kind of awkward at first, and mine definitely is not consistent all the way around. I watched a couple of videos on Youtube to help me get the hang of it, just search for "crab stitch crochet". The motif is part of the Teen Throw free pattern on the Caron Yarns website, and it's designed by Andee Graves who is an absolute sweetheart! She has a wonderful blog too, you can visit her here.

Tomorrow is my Wire and Bead Crochet class--can't wait! Maybe I'll have something awesome to show you next Friday. Have a great weekend! And check out more Finished Objects at FO Friday over at Tami's Amis.