All Done…

I just finished knitting Hazel’s birthday top, using a modified “Fiona’s Top”  pattern.

I’m not sure I love the way the increases show in the yarn, but they were less noticeable after blocking, and will probably become even less apparent after a few washings.

Hazel's Top 2

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Self Promotion or Self-Aggrandizement?

I decided, after several suggestions from friends, to start an Etsy shop.  It isn’t a big deal–I just listed a few extra knit items I have and the lip balm I make.  I’m really not convinced my stuff is actually good enough to charge people money for it.  When friends and family say they like my things, I always assume they are just being nice.

I have trouble setting prices.  As anyone who knits knows, if I actually charged for my time and materials, no one would  buy my knits due to the cost.  I recently listed a baby tunic in my store.  This one piece took me two years to complete because I struggled with the lace pattern, the small needles and the lightweight yarn–it wasn’t something I could do with other people in the room, or with regular interruptions–I had to count stitches! I kept putting it aside and coming back to it.  I probably made and remade the thing 6 separate times.  If I used minimum wage to determine the price, not even including materials, the cost would be in the hundreds.

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The million dollar baby tunic

Last week  I was asked specifically to make something for a friend, and I did–so why did I feel ashamed specifying a price?  She didn’t seem to think what I asked was too much.  Other items are relatively easy to make, so I feel stupid charging people because they could seriously make them themselves.  Yet my sister-in-law says that even if they could, not everyone would, which is why a pair of boot cuffs (that take about 2 hours to make) sell for $20-30…and people actually pay that.

I had a conversation with a friend this weekend about how hard it is for me (and her) to self-promote.  She has to as part of her job, so she’s learned, as she says, “to fake it to make it”.  However, I am definitely passive aggressive in my approach (writing a blog post about it? Soooo passive aggressive!).  I’m confident in other areas of my life, so why am I having such a hard time with this?  Other people sell their crafts regularly, and I don’t think anything of it, so why do I care so much?  Is it a Midwest thing to feel like promoting myself is actually self-aggrandizement?  (By the way, I would never mark my own post as “super-awesome”–why is this even an option, WordPress?) Since I am trying to work through this,  I am going to go ahead and link this post to my Etsy store, SixthStreetKnits.  And blush while I do it.

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Who else struggles with this?

Trying to Find a Balance

I decided this past fall that I simply couldn’t keep up with posting daily–real life had to come first.  Yet, as I was looking through my blog today, I realized I really missed it.  So I guess the answer is balance.  I am going to try to post at least once a week.  This may be crazy, as garden season is right around the corner, but I’ll figure it out.  It might just mean one less thing gets knitted each week.

Speaking of knitting, I just opened an Etsy shop called Sixth Street Knits–just for the extra stuff I make.  I feel a little silly because I’m not sure my knitting is good enough for someone to actually give me money for it, but people seem to like what I’ve been making.  We’ll see what happens.  One thing that I listed is the finally finished “Fiona’s Top” pattern.  (See the post:  The Saga of Fiona’s Top).  It took me two years to get that sucker done–I frogged and reknit that thing so many times I should have at least half a dozen of them now.  It may be a while before I attempt another–small needles + light yarn do not satisfy my instant gratification needs.  Right now, I am making another little sundress for my cousin’s baby–bigger needles and less lace make for a quicker knit.

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 This year I want to find some balance between knitting and gardening.  Last summer I hardly picked up any knitting because I was so into working on my garden plot and yard.

So there it is…a short post to get back into the swing of things on From Michigan to Montana. Feels good to be back!

A Very Crafty Christmas

Pinterest makes you feel like you can craft anything, doesn’t it?  Its “DIY” category was the basis for most of my Christmas presents and decorations this year.

My first project was a yarn ball wreath.  My husband fashioned a ring for me from coaxial cable, which I wrapped with yarn.  I used foam balls from JoAnn’s as the center for each “yarn” ball and Red Heart Super Saver yarn, which is pretty inexpensive. It took me a while to determine the best way to secure the balls to the ring.  After experimenting, I used floral U shaped pins, and then my handy glue gun.  I added some inexpensive silver gaudy balls (as my husband calls them).

The final result:

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Next year I may add more of the smaller balls to the outside ring.

For my front door, I made a quick, inexpensive wreath with gaudy balls, a wire hanger and ribbon.  The picture is a bit blurry, but you get the idea.

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Of course I knitted a few things to gift, including ear warmers, boot cuffs and a beer cozy (didn’t want my brother-in-law to feel left out).  I also made some fingerless gloves, but I didn’t get a picture of them.

bootcuffs:

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I made body spray from distilled water, witch hazel, vegetable glycerin and essential oils:

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I crafted ornaments:

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But what I was most excited about making was the lip balm.  For the majority of my life, if I discovered I didn’t have a ChapStik in my pocket, I swear I could feel my lips immediately drying and cracking.  Now I can’t imagine ever purchasing it again.  I bought the tubes through Amazon, but the first batch I received was awful–not a single cap stayed on.  So as not to waste them, I put a small dot of hot glue on the tube to make them fit.  Subsequent orders from different vendors produced appropriately sized lids.

There are many recipes for lip balm on the Internet, and I settled on one that combined beeswax, shea butter, sunflower oil and essential oils.  I made peppermint, citrus (orange and grapfruit) and lemon batches.

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In addition to these items, my husband made strawberry bread, pumpkin bread, and zucchini bread.  It was a very crafty Christmas indeed, and even though my family in Florida pokes fun at me, wondering if my children are being used as sweat shop labor, I had fun and I’m even a little bit proud of myself.  🙂

Currently on the agenda:  I am knitting a wall hanging thingy–the idea came from Pinterest, of course.  I am also making t-shirt yarn out of tank tops that I dont wear anymore–I eventually want to crochet it into a rug or a basket.

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Are you making anything right now?

Bring on 2014!

It has been ages since I’ve written on this blog, but it has truly been a very busy fall and early winter.  In addition trying to keep up with my kids, husband and the Giant Newfoundland, I took on some new projects.

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Such a pretty girl.

In October, we put the Columbia Falls Community Garden to bed for the winter.  We planted flower bulbs and garlic. It was definitely a successful season.  Our growing season was amazingly long, and we were able to donate nearly 260 pounds of fresh produce to the Columbia Falls Food Bank.  I feel like I spent the better part of September and October in the kitchen, processing tomatoes.  I was able to put up 74 jars of tomato products though–should last until next year.

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74 jars of tomatoes on the wall…

I started teaching a new course at the high school called History through Literature, which fulfills the required credits for both US History and English 11.  Those of you who are teachers know how time-consuming it is to craft a new course.  For this one, I have the same set of students twice a day, and I am trying to implement student-centered and inquiry-based learning.  There have been some successes and some things that definitely needs reworking for next year.

In addition to my full schedule at the high school, I also began teaching World History for the Montana Digital Academy. MTDA is a fantastic program that offers (free) courses for high school age kids throughout the state of Montana.  Montana high schools are often very small and far away from one another (the state is just barely under 150,000 square miles with just barely over a million people) and they can’t always offer the same buffet of courses for their students; this helps to fill that need. I have students from Columbia Falls to Wibaux, and from Shelby to Red Lodge and everywhere in between.  Some are home-schooled, while others are trying to get caught back up so they can graduate.  Many of my students this past semester are taking World History in addition to a full class load at school.  So far it has been very rewarding.

Finally, I was elected to the Columbia Falls City Council this past November.  I have my first meeting on my birthday, January 6th.  I’m excited–I have an orientation with the city manager on Thursday morning so I I’ll know what to expect.

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Other than these exciting additions to my life/schedule, I taught myself, with the help of my mother-in-law, the basics of crochet.  This will accompany my knitting–there are just certain things that are better crocheted than knitted.  Like baskets.  I still find crocheting awkward and much more difficult that knitting–but I assume it will get easier.

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My first attempt. It has issues.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s a full plate, but someone told me that I must like it that way, or it wouldn’t be.  Very wise, very wise.    My next post will be about my “Very Crafty Christmas”.  Stay tuned!

What I’m Knitting Today

…while waiting for my next flight to Orlando…

The corrugated washcloth. I love knitting washcloths–and I’ve discovered that these all cotton washcloths don’t get that musty smell my “store bought” washcloths do.

Simple pattern:
CO 40
Row 1: purl
Row 2: knit
Row 3: knit
Repeat until you reach your desired length.

I’m using size 7 needles with Lily Sugar n’ Cream.

Happy travels!

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What I am Knitting Today

What I am Knitting Today

It is teacher present time of year. Last year, I waited until the last week and had to knit 8 wash cloths (ok…I didn’t have to…) during the busiest time of the school year.

This year I wised up a bit. First of all, I started earlier to relieve some stress. Secondly, I am only doing one wash cloth (ok…maybe two…) per teacher, albeit with fancier patterns. I will go to a local store called Sage and Cedar to buy rough cut soaps to go with them.

This pattern is called “Scottish Fleet Square“. I am using Lily Sugar n’ Cream, and the colorway is Denim.