Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Baby's Daddy

It's Mr. Pumpkin Girl's birthday Friday, and I'll be gone at the craftorama all day. So I'm feeling guilty and sorry I couldn't make it more of a fun day for him. He's a good hubby and a good daddy. Hopefully our sweet baby can make it up to him on my behalf with a few well-timed smiles and giggles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bingo and Grandma Betty

My grandma Betty was a pretty awesome grandma. When I was little she would take me on walks "in the ditch" by her house, which was pretty much a little culvert that sometimes was dry, and sometimes allowed for just the right amount of splashing around. She would also pick me up from school if I was sick and take me to McDonald's for a sundae. So, you know, a real "grandmas grandma." Pretty normal in most ways.

However, in the years before she died, grandma Betty surprised the whole family by becoming exceptionally good at a kooky little game my family plays around the holidays called "Big Ass Bingo." It involves the standard game of Bingo, but with really sh*tty prizes. I mean, like the craziest, most bizarre and disgusting stuff you can come up with. My grandma, who liked to buy cutesy stuff and candles and soaps and things, eventually caught on that the prizes were supposed to suck. And once she caught on, she ruled it.

Grandma found some terribly awesome stuff, probably hidden in her basement for decades, or stumbled upon at a garage sale somewhere, and it made us crack up. Clown heads with crocheted stuff around it and weird misshapen kid's pottery and who knows what else. She would try to wear a poker face when someone was about to open something she'd brought, but she couldn't contain herself. Her prizes were so bad, she even wrapped them in crappy paper. And she found it all very hilarious.

I made this fancy bingo card, in fact a set of bingo cards, in her honor. The anniversary of her death is in a few weeks and I'll be thinking about her, playing some bingo and laughing our heads off. If you would like to introduce the family-bonding game of Big Ass Bingo to your family, stop by my booth at No Coast. I'll have a set with your name on it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving/Happy Pre-Christmas

At the house of Pumpkin Girl, Thanksgiving really is just the marker on the calendar that signals that it's "okay" to start playing Christmas tunes, and decorating and shopping for the holiday that in all reality is over a month away. I mean, seriously people, it's not even DECEMBER yet, and we're ready to start breaking out the festiveness and putting on our Christmas sweater. But I'm not complaining, merely pointing out our collective flaws and "glass half full" optimism and cheerfulness about the coming holiday. Of course, not everyone is as cheerful, but screw them! I love Christmas.

But enough about Christmas, enjoy some photos of our Thanksgiving. Let's at least give that poor holiday a little credit of it's own for bringing people together around food and drinks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My New Pumpkin Girl Banner

Sometimes I feel like getting ready for a craft sale or selling stuff on etsy is escapism. I haven't balanced my checkbook in months, I have dirty laundry, and the dishes need to be washed, but I manage to update my blog, add stuff to my etsy shop, make new products to sell, and order supplies for No Coast. But doing fun things that make me happy should be all good, right?

Anyway, good or not, I made myself a new banner for my craft booth. I hung it on my fireplace to test it out. Whatcha think? It was easy to make. I printed out letters, about 5 to a page and made a thin black circle to go around them that served as my cutting line. Then I traced a bigger bowl to cut out the shapes for the background. Add a little gluestick and a hole puncher and some ribbon, and voila! A banner!

If I didn't feel like making one, I would have thought about buying this one from Mahar Dry Goods. Other banners that I like include this Merry Christmas one from meringuedesigns on Etsy and this Believe banner that looks a lot like mine from StoriaHome, also on Etsy. I'm really kind of digging the idea of getting one to hang on my fireplace for the holidays. Maybe since my house is sort of wood-y, I should get this super cool wooden banner from smallstump.

Anyhoo, happy banner hunting and wish me luck with mine!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My New Camera IS AMAZING!

I just got a new camera, the Nikon D40, and it's unbelievable. Compare this shot to the one in my previous post taken with my old camera. Maybe it's *not* me that's the terrible photographer!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Clothespin Angel Christmas Ornaments

Waiting for the bus this week I bumped into my friend Run Amok, fellow member of the Saint Paul Craft Mafia, and she mentioned she had been working her little fingers to the bone cranking out ornaments for the upcoming craft sale. I told her that I, too had been making ornaments. Well, more like ornament. Singular. That was on Tuesday, when my above glittery gal with knitted frock was the only ornament I'd made. Over the last few nights, however, I've made more. I skipped the glitter because it was messy and getting all over the place. The real miracle is, though, that I'll have some cute clothespin angels at the sale. Yippee!

Here's the thread that inspired me to make them. This blog post by Kath Reed from 2005 has the motherlode of resources if you're interested in making your own clothespin dolls, or just want to see what others have done. There are some pretty amazing ones out there! If you know of other places to find clothespin doll inspiration, do post! I'd love to see more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Mom's Crafty: Interview with Granny's Closet

My mom is the reason why I’m obsessed with crafting. Yes, I blame her for my need to sew in particular, but also my irrational objection to throwing anything away for fear that it could be part of some groundbreaking new craft project. Some of the earliest memories I have of spending time with my mom are of the two of us sitting on the floor in our living room, pinning down patterns for pinafores, Halloween costumes, fall jackets and other things she made for me.

She taught me how to sew (my first project was a heart shaped pillow made out of stretchy cotton) long before Home Economics class, and it was in that class that I was issued my first speeding ticket – not for driving too fast, but for sewing too fast. Mom also taught me to do cross stitch — which I can still do, barely — and most recently I used that skill to make my husband a “Man Room” sign for his record room, complete with “sitting ladies” (think mud flaps), beers, and guitars.

Nowadays, my mom and I don’t craft together much since we aren’t in the same state, but we both still craft, and sell our stuff on Etsy. She also was the driving force behind my founding of the No Coast Craft-o-rama, which drew 8,000 attendees last year, many of whom stood in line to buy my mom’s bags before she was even fully set up. I thought it might be fun to talk to my mom about her recent success crafting for business. Here’s the interview:

Q: So, mom -- you've been retired now for what, 2 years? How do you like being a full time crafter?
A: I love being a full time crafter for many reasons. First, it keeps me from being a couch potato. Many retired people that I know just do not seem to do anything. Crafting makes me feel productive and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. It also keeps the mind active and helps me stay current with the changing trends.

Q: Remember back on the pumpkin farm? What kinds of things have you crafted over the years? Successes? Failures?
A: I have dabbled into many areas of crafting. I used to make most of my children's clothing so my sewing was mostly doing essential stuff rather than "crafty" things. Failures? I guess the one I remember the most isn't exactly a failure but it sure sticks out in my mind. One Christmas I had spent months secretly crocheting Barbie Doll clothes for one of my daughters. I was SO excited because they had really turned out well and I was thrilled that she would have bunch of Barbie clothes that were different from everyone else’s. She opened the box on Christmas morning and it went over like a lead balloon. She wanted the store bought stuff. My most recent failure is my first pair of underwear that I made in my Serger class. My husband threatens to frame them - guess I am going to have to burn them!

Q: Your sales on Etsy are incredible -- 637 items sold as of today! To what do you attribute your success?
A: I think it is mainly my fabric choices. That is the most frequent positive comment I get from people. I also think that I have priced my items well. I try to figure as closely as possible what it costs me to make it and give myself a reasonable profit.

Q: What's some advice you would give to people selling on Etsy, or doing craft sales like No Coast Craft-o-rama?
A: Study what is selling on Etsy and at what price range. Try a few items and if they totally bomb - move on to something else. Know your skill limitations and stick with making things you do well. Promote your shop as much as possible. However, I think the main thing for long-term success on Etsy (or anywhere else for that matter) is GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE with a personal touch! I have lots of repeat customers and I think part of the reason is that I am respectful to my buyer, prompt with acknowledging each sale and with the shipping.

Q: You buy a lot of handmade stuff from other Etsy sellers. Why do you like buying handmade stuff?
A: I like handmade things because they are usually well done and unique. I like buying things that you maybe cannot get anywhere else. And I love the opportunity to buy from my fellow Etsiers. For the most part, they are a great, creative bunch of people.

Granny's Closet Etsy Shop

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm on a Roll: More New Cards!

I've put a bunch of new cards in my shop lately. This one was inspired by our very own Minnesota Rollergirls. Fellow crafter and rollergirl Cupcake invited some of us to the December 8th bout, just in time for my birthday. Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Coast Posters for Download!

Guys and gals, it's one of my favorite times of year. It's craft sale time. I have to admit, it's also an extremely busy time of year. There are about a billion moving parts to putting this thing together, and the 8 or so of us who plan it squeeze a HECK of a lot of time out of our personal lives to do it, and we don't make any money for it! But enough whining, let's get to the good stuff.

Of course I think our local crafters are about the sweetest, most talented, generous and amazing people you'll find anywhere. One of them in particular, Adam Turman, really stepped up to the plate to help us out this year. He designed a poster so cool that I giggle just a little bit every time I look at it. It's pink and brown (great colors), features a cabin (I love cabins) and just screams Midwest crafty charm.

Highlights this year of course include my mom selling her knitting needle and crochet hook bags, Kristen Mary and her hubby Trophiogrande International selling stockings, fabric paper dolls and illustrations, Charlie and Sarah who sell clothes for little boys (and girls), and Fantastic Toys, whose stuff I have admired but not yet bought.

If you haven't already, make a shopping list, come on Friday (avoid the crowd?) and be prepared to want WAY more than you can possibly afford.

No Coast Craft-o-rama
Nov 30, 3 - 8 PM
Dec 1, 9 to 5 PM
Midtown Global Market, Lake St.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You, Too Can Be a Winner

Mama photo not your gig? How about Craft Zine's Prairie-Girl Inspired Apron Contest? I'm not sure if anyone has tried this, but one of my all-time favorite aprons is the dish soap bottle apron (free pattern here). I also love looking at the Flickr photoset dedicated to vintage apron patterns like the one at the top of this post. And finally, some patterns using these great fabrics by Heather Bailey and an awesome halter-style pattern by Heather Bailey that apparently isn't available yet...?
Happy apron making! I'm off to add some new cards to my shop!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mama Photo Contest

I love the idea of the Mama Focus Photo Contest by Mama Zine, but I have not a photographer bone in my body. I like to blame my terrible photography on my equipment, but the more likely culprit is me. I just don't have the eye. But, if you do, or if your kid is old enough to take a picture of you, you should enter this contest, or at least visit the Flickr group where the entries are posted. Boy, there are some pretty mamas and some really good photographers out there. So far my favorite is this one by Laura Kukulski.
My favorite (although not arty, not really worthy of this contest) photo of myself post-mamahood is this one. I think it really captures the moment when Grant's feet hit the cold water at the kiddie pool, and I thought, "uh oh, maybe not such a fun idea!"

I think my sister should enter this one, which I assume was taken by one of her kidlets!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Knittin' Some Mittens

I'm not that great of a knitter, but every now and again I try something I've never done before and surprise myself at how well it turns out. I always thought of mittens as something that would be impossibly hard (how do they come out looking like a pair?!) or take an impossibly long time to do. I have been there, now, and I tell you it's not that bad! I think it took me an hour or two to make each one. No problem!

I should caveat that statement by revealing that my first pair of mittens were made for someone with very, very small hands. But, now that I know it's not like knitting an intestinal system or a knit motercycle, after all!

Now that I'm on a roll, I might try some of these fun looking mitten patterns:

Cuff up Mitten
Gifted Cashmere Mittens
Plaid Mittens
Classic Vintage Mittens
Open Palm "Driving Glove" Mittensor these with fingers and a button
Coolest Pirate Mittens on EarthMitts for my Babe
Jack & Jill Baby Mitts
Cuddly, Fast and Colorful Mittens
Window Pane Mitten

Man, there are a ton of patterns out there -- after mittens I suppose I'll have to try arm warmers!!