Monday, March 4, 2013

Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest, oh my!

As I've been researching all of the things one needs to do to start up a successful business, especially one based online, is to take advantage of all the social media outlets out there. 

Now, I haven't been living under a rock.  I'm a gal in her 30s after all and I know that Facebook and Twitter are all really powerful ways to get your product out there, but whoa, where to start?  Or maybe the real question is: where to stop?  At what point does maintaining a Facebook page or Twitter account become more work than it's "worth"?  

Twitter I can probably do -- I like the character limit and the fact that I can do it from my phone quickly while, I don't know, I'm on the toilet or something.  But Facebook is a different beast entirely.  I used to have a personal Facebook page, but I found that it just succeeded in sucking up my time and, more often than not, I ended up feeling bad about myself because I couldn't help but compare my life with the "lives" posted by my friends.  I know, I know, Facebook users more often than not post the good things going on and not the shit, so it's totally biased, but it is what is.  Anyhoo, I decided there would be no more Facebook and haven't looked back since -- nor have I missed it at all.  But now I'm faced with the prospect of a Facebook business page.

Pinterest, I absolutely cannot do.  I have no willpower to resist all of the fantastic crafts and ideas that look so awesome I MUST DO THEM RIGHT AWAY.  The last thing I need is another hobby or project.  My goal is to master the skill sets I already have.  And finish the projects I've already started ;)

Phew...okay, back on topic.  What are your thoughts on this?  Is it really worthwhile? Do you maintain a Facebook page?   A Twitter account?  Anything I must do to increase traffic and, ultimately, sales?  I watched this set of YouTube videos recently on getting your Etsy shop more traffic and found it really useful.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I made my first Etsy sale at the beginning of the month -- I was ecstatic!!  Without giving too much away, here they are: 

Sigh, I took this picture in the backyard of our condo in Florida while I was on vacation......

Anyhoo, back to reality.  These are the Human Keep version and are customized with names (not shown) and royal blue lining.    

I've been working away at more customized bags for my friend who is in the process of developing a game and that's been lots of fun.  

Outside of dice bags, design class has been very busy (we're in the process of finalizing our skirt blocks) and I'm in the process of moving the blog over to wordpress, which is taking a little longer than anticipated.  Usually, I try to work on posts and blog material during my lunch at work but wordpress is blocked, which leaves me the evenings when I don't have other commitments or before bed.   I'm hoping this weekend I'll be able to make the full move.  So, if it looks a little wonky in this space, be patient - I'm on it!

Enjoy your night!  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's sweater love

Uhhh, not sure what's with the look on my face...
I cast on for Nanook (Rav link) on Boxing Day and wore it for the first time this week -- I love it!   The fit is great and the yarn so soft and drapey. I used Cephalopod Yarns in their Traveller Base in the Stranger's Home, AK colourway.  A little tidbit about me -- I love purple.  It's the first colour I reach for in a yarn store, so at Rhinebeck when I saw this colour in the Cephalopod booth, I knew I had to have it.  There was only one skein, but one of the workers in the booth was awesome and managed to track down another 3 for me.  This colour has lots of depth, with areas that are almost black and then pops of blue every once in awhile.  I alternated skeins to make sure there was no obvious colour transition and to reduce pooling.  Really, I can't say enough good things about this yarn -- it will be on my list again for Rhinebeck next year too.


The pattern itself is equally as fantastic.  I love that Heidi (the designer) has you do the sleeves immediately after the yoke -- it helps to prevent second sleeve syndrome.  The only modification I made was to make the sweater significantly longer.  I have a long torso, so as a rule of thumb always add a minimum 1" to patterns, but in this case I also wanted to make sure to use all of my pretty yarn:)

Thanks Cephalopod and Heidi!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Halfling Burrow

The last in the line of Sink or Swim dice bags are now available in the etsy shop! This is the smallest bag, with a maximum capacity of 50 dice. Shown here as a token bag. The dimensions are 2.5 in x 2.5 in at the base and 4.5 in high. They stand up on their own.

The Halfling is made and lined using the same velvet that lines the Human Keep and Dragon's Hoard. The colours available are the same as the lining options for the Human Keep and Dragon's Hoard. However, unlike the larger bags, this bag does not come with a carabiner. 

Each bag, of course, can be customized:)

Here is the comparison of the three bags.

The thing I like the most is that this bag nests nicely in the Dragon's Hoard so that you can keep your tokens together and separate from your dice and there's still plenty of space for pencils, papers, etc.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Yarn dyeing

A couple of weeks ago, my LYS had a class on yarn dyeing.  I've always been intrigued by dyeing yarn and have a particular affinity for self-striping sock yarn, so I jumped at the chance to take it....bad move because I'm HOOKED!!  It was so much fun to pick colours and combine them and then to watch them set.  

We did handpainting and were shown how to kettle dye.  I loved the unstructuredness of it.  No worrying about fit or stitch quality. No need to cut and measure and calculate.  Just pure fun and messiness.  I love a good mess.  

I had a really hard time trying to decide what to do, I pretty much love every colour out there.  In the end I chose to do a deep bottle green, fuschia and "carribean" blue.  I'm quite happy with how it turned out!!  The colourway name is "Where I'd rather be" in honour of the tropical blues and greens and how they remind me of my recent vacation south.  I'll definitely be doing more of this -- I stocked up on supplies while we were waiting for our yarn to steam:)  This weekend I'm going to try my hand at kettle dyeing a skein of sock yarn and then, if I have time (ha!) dyeing a skein of self striping.  I can't wait!!!    

Note to self: don't forget to clean your house...

Have a good weekend all!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Refashioning a Mink Coat: Part 2

If you remember before the holidays, a client contacted me about making a muff as a Christmas gift out of her mother's mink coat that was languishing in a closet.

As a follow up gift, she then commissioned me to make a stole out of the remaining coat. I used many of the same techniques as I did for the muff -- I drafted the paper pattern first and then hand sewed twill tape to all  raw edges using a catch stitch.  I had to make creative use of the coat to ensure the stole would be long enough, so it's made of 5 panels - a centre panel, 2 "body" panels and 2 side or edge panels.

The stole is lined in black kasia lining.  I tried to use the lining from the jacket, but a couple of small repairs that had been done and the seams I had to go over make it look untidy and ship-shod.

Unlike the first project, I sewed it together using my machine.  To mimic the whipstitch, I used a zigzag stitch and made sure that the right swing of the needle fell off the edge of the seam allowance. 

I was able to make use of some of the original closures should the recipient wish to use them.  I didn't have her measurements, so the placement of them is a wild guess.

Like the last project, this one was a blast and I'm very happy with the outcome!!! 


Ahhh vacationing

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dragon's Hoard

Introducing the Dragon's Hoard!!

This is the largest of the set of 3 dice bags from Sink or Swim Stitching.   Call this the deluxe version if you will:)  Like the Human Keep, the outer fabric is waterproof nylon and the lining fabric is velvet.  Dragon's Hoard can also be customized with your name or favourite handle.

But, here comes the's completely reversible!  

The velvet has 6 pockets that help you organize your dice making for easy access while you're playing.  Each pocket is labelled - 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20, has an elastic edging and snaps to ensure your dice stay safe and sound.  

There's still plenty of space in the centre for your pencils and any other objects you need ready access to. 

Dragon's Hoard (left) and Human Keep (right) side by side.  Both are available in my etsy shop

Monday, January 28, 2013

Burrow, Keep, Hoard

For anyone who likes to "roll the bones", this is for you.

Announcing Sink or Swim dice bags!!!  Today I have for you the "Human Keep": 

Meausring 11 cm x 8 cm (4.4 in x 3.2 in) at the base and 13 cm (5.2 in)  high, the bag comfortably holds a full set of dice and other tokens.  The outer material is 100% nylon and waterproof while the inner lining is a luscious velvet. 

The drawstring cords are 100% nylon and very durable and ensures a tight closure so all of your die are secure.

The carabiner allows you to attach the bag to your belt loop or bag so you can have your hands free and ensure that your die are always accessible.

Each bag is available with optional, customizable embroidery.  Do you have a handle or quote you're particularly fond of?  Or perhaps you just want everyone to know it's your bag?  You choose what you want it to say and what you want to say to those around you.  

Spark RPG is a game my friend (and my source of inspiration for these bags), Jason, is currently developing.  Check him out at

All dice bags will be available in my Etsy shop starting this weekend (Feb 2nd).  Instead of offering premade bags, I'll be offering them as pre-orders that will allow you to customize your own bag according to your preferred outer fabric colour, lining colour and lettering you want to appear.  

Up next: 
  • the Halfling's Borrow - simple drawstring bag for nesting and separating your die and tokens in the larger bags
  • the Dragon's Hoard - bigger, smarter, reversible, for serious gaming

Thursday, January 24, 2013

She's coming home tonight...

I finally bit the bullet -- I'm getting an industrial machine.  Picking it up tonight in fact:)   Two years ago, when I was thinking of upgrading from my basic Kenmore, I was encouraged to look at an industrial machine by my instructor.  I won't lie, I was hesitant -- I love to sew knits and I didn't have a decent serger at the time that could handle them, so a machine with zig zag was really kind of important (these industrials are straight stitch only).  I did, however, vow to get a good, heavy mechanical machine at the very least.  

I came out with the most beefed up, modern, computerized quilting machine I could afford. Complete. Let. Down. 

In the first couple of months, I tried to sew snap tape onto my nephew's christening outfit, only to have the machine completely refuse to feed the fabric.  I ended up pulling out my $100 Kenmore and, bam, done in no time.  Let's just say, that incident set the tone for the rest of my relationship with this high-tech machine -- I would ask it to do something a little out of the ordinary, it crapped out, I fought with it for 1/2 hour trying to get it to work until, finally, in tears, I'd pull out my Kenmore and 5 minutes later it would be done. I wanted to throw that machine out the window. My dealer was absolutely no help  so I ended up selling the machine (for a significant loss) a year later to someone who will be able to enjoy and use all of the fantastic features it did have.  

Since then I've been using my trusty Kenmore.  Don't get me wrong -- it's a great little machine.  I'd tell anyone who's just starting to sew to go to Sears and grab a basic Kenmore.  They're affordable, sew decently and can tolerate beginner abuse.  But it doesn't have the power nor stitch quality I'm looking for -- it's my back up and not really meant to be my main machine.  

Say hello to Juki...or Judy as I will call her.  She's all metal, all heft and all speed. Purrrrr... I hope I'm not jinxing it by gushing about it before I even get it in the house, but I'm just so excited! 

Oh, and for those knit garments?  Well, I still have my trusty Kenmore...and a new serger (more on her later):)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fun with Fur

I recently had the pleasure of refashioning a mink coat for a client into a muff as a Christmas gift for her SIL.   Honestly?  I had so much fun with this project.  I love to work with fur and leather and ripping things apart to see how they've been put together.  

This coat is in great shape and the first cut really scared me (I hope she's sure about this!).  I started by taking a stitch ripper to the lining and separating it from the coat.  You can see in this picture that fur coats are actually made by joining thin strips of fur together using a specialized machine for sewing fur.  You can also see the twill tape hand stitched along the hem and as a waist stay.

Often when opening up a fur coat, you will find sawdust that has settled into the hem or facings.  Not to worry!!  It's just a product of how the skins are cleaned.  Mind you, it can sometimes be a little alarming nonetheless:)

When cutting fur, it is very important not to cut the hairs, so scissors are out of the question.  I use a very sharp exacto knife to carefully cut the hide and then separate the fur with my fingers. 

Once I had my pattern cut out, I stitched twill tape (both new and that salvedged from the coat) to the seam allowances and whip stitched my pieces together by hand. My first iteration had the muff lined with some kasia and the coat lining, but when I tried it on to admire it, it didn't feel very warm and cozy.  So I took it out and lined it with fur.  Ahhhh, much better. 

I added a ribbon to go around the wearer's neck, accessorized it with a little mink pompom and voila!  A muff.  (please ignore the errant thread in the pic below!)

Gorgeous if I do say so myself.  I'm addicted -- I can't wait to do more projects like this!!  There's still plenty left of the coat so a stole is up next.  Squee!!!!!

I love that this project took something that wasn't being used and made it into a stylish accessory that is functional and that will hopefully get a lot of use.  I know fur is somewhat of a touchy subject for many people, but this way we are making sure to get as much use out of the skins as possible and extending the life cycle of the animals that went into it -- something I feel strongly about in this throw away time of our society. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A New Year

Happy 2013  

I can NOT believe it’s already January.

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to write a post about my resolutions for this year or what I hope to accomplish.  Then I thought, what the hell, maybe by putting them out there I just might be more inspired to follow through!

I have a bunch of resolutions on a personal level that I won’t delve into here, suffice to say that I want to make the most out of every day, to live true to myself and to step out of my comfort zone every once in awhile.  All of this leads to one resolution that crosses the creative/personal/professional boundaries – better time management.  And by this I mean, spending just a little bit of time everyday to:
  • Tidy/clean – clutter f*cks with my creativity. I have a hard time getting into a groove when there’s stuff piled around me…which might explain my loss of sewing mojo the last month or so cause I’ve been living in pile o’ crap.  
  • Sew – I think I’m going to follow Tilly’s 15 minutes a day plan.
  • Knit – knitting’s my zen, nuff said.  I have no problems sneaking in knitting time.
  • Read – my back log of books is calling my name.  I recently went on a binge and have a stack of new fiction I can’t wait to dig into.  I’m on goodreads here 
  • Maggie – Mags is getting to the age where she’s needs little bit of extra primping and prodding to keep her at her healthiest.  She’s been good to me, this wonderful, itchy old gal, and I want her around as long as possible.  

From a business standpoint, I want to keep up my commission work and get more comfortable charging what I believe is fair (I habitually underestimate my time) instead of worrying that it will chase customers off.  If it does, so be it.  And, I’ve got a bunch of projects up my sleeve I want to get finished and out in the world to see how they’re received.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share soon! 
Lastly, I want to finish some of my works in progress that have been hanging around 75% done after I got distracted with something else new and shiny. More on these to come…
I could go on and on -- everyone knows I love to dream and plan!!  What about you out there – any resolutions in particular?