What I did with the extra hour

The time changed here on Sunday. We set the clocks back one hour and like most people I technically spent my extra hour sleeping. I needed the extra bit of sleep after quite a full crafty Saturday. Although the morning was spent with the usual bit of house cleaning and laundry, I had a lovely afternoon at a friend’s Stampin’ Up! Christmas card making party. It was just what the doctor order too! We all work together and last week was full of extra stress, so being able to come together and make some pretty cards was a good release.

Fabel, Alfa, and Eskimo yarn ballsFollowing that relaxing afternoon, my hubby and I drove out to Banff in the evening. His mother and grandmother live there and his mother actually owns a yarn store in the town of Banff called Jen By The Fjord. She recently moved into a new location, so for any locals interested in checking out her shop, she is in Harmony Lane on the second floor. It’s a bit hidden, but worth a visit! Our mission, besides spending some time catching up, was to put a yarn order in. I’m definitely ready to move on from working solely with yarns purchased from Michaels and while I’m still learning about different yarn types I thought it best to turn to a professional. When your mother-in-law happens to be that professional, it’s even better! So after some back and forth and much touching of yarns, I decided on a few types to order: Punta Yarns Meritwist, Sandnesgarn Alfa, and Garnstudio Eskimo. I was even able to bring some balls home to play with (I *heart* my mother-in-law) and picked up some Garnstudio Fabel yarn to make socks (have to start the Christmas present making soon).

With the yarn order placed and some carrot cake in my tummy, hubby and I drove home along an eerily quiet highway in the dark, arriving home at midnight. So yes, we were thankful for the extra hour on Sunday to get plenty of sleep and still do all the rest of the errands that have been piling up the last couple of weeks.

How will my booth grow?

Buttons on scarfletteThe first step to prepping for a craft fair (assuming that you have already submitted an application) seems to be pretty obvious; make stuff! I do this on a regular basis anyway, but I picked a couple of items to focus on, stocked up on materials, and ramped up my crafting.

The second step, for me, has been to read, research, brainstorm, and daydream. I’m realizing that there are a bunch of factors to consider when designing a craft booth/table. Of course, you have to decide the most attractive way to display your handmade items so that people are not only drawn to your space, but can also readily see what your items are and how to use them. In my case, I’ve decided to focus on crochet scarflettes, which I am making in a rainbow of colours. Folded up, it’s hard to tell what they are and when they aren’t being worn they seem like an odd shape. First solution to this display challenge, I will make sure to wear one of my scarflettes at the show (duh). Second solution, I will include a couple of pretty framed photos of the scarflettes being worn by others. Third solution… not sure yet. I’m debating about bringing my dress-form along to put a scarflette on display. I know for sure that one element I want to play up is the colourful rainbow, so I will continue to brainstorm the best way to do this.

Okay, so besides keeping in mind the actual items that will need displaying, I’m also trying determine a general “feel” for my crafty business. Not just for craft shows, but for my online shop too. Have I mentioned that I am FINALLY getting an Etsy shop set-up too? Well, now you know. It’s all very much “in progress”, but I will make sure to share more about it here when it is closer to completion. So, right, back to brainstorming crafty business “themes”. I am starting to keep a notebook in my purse that I can whip out whenever I have an idea or see an intriguing store display. I am also trolling the internet for inspiration. Here are a bunch of links that I’ve found helpful in learning about what to keep in mind for craft shows, including craft booth/table ideas:

Preparing for your arts and crafts shows
Prepping for your next art & craft fair
13 Craft Show Display Do’s
Fair game: how to maximize your craft fair profit
Craft fair tips and lessons learned
How to set up a craft booth that customers can’t resist
Craft show suggestions/table setup
Show me your booths
Arts & crafts fairs & shows

Hope that helps any of you who might also be getting ready for a craft show! For now, my own check-list is growing each day. Not too much getting marked “done”, but plenty of brainstorming happening.

Looking at all the lovely booth pictures on Flickr, I find that I need to remind myself of one very important thing, keep it simple. Let me write that again, just for good measure. Keep it simple. As much as I daydream about a beautiful craft table, the last thing I want to do is become too overwhelmed, trying to develop everything (off and online) for my crafty business while working a non-crafty full-time job. Yes, a craft table needs to be appealing and represent your handmade product as best it can, but I think it is also something that I can grow over time. So for my first craft show I want to keep it simple, especially since I will be sharing the space with a friend. The reading, learning, and inspiration continues though, and I am eager to apply all of that in the near future.

Meow, meow

Catnip sproutI’ve been talking to my herb garden as often as I can remember, but things are have been pretty busy. Have no fear, it has been getting plenty of water and sunshine. I had basically given up on the rosemary and catnip, but was still feeling satisfied with my other three lovely herb companions. And then, “Surprise!” All of sudden there are THREE catnip sprouts! THREE! I’m so tickled! Of all the seeds I planted, the catnip was the one I had the most doubts about, but there they are. I tried to explain to Chloe why I was so excited and why she should be excited too, but I was met with a questioning look. Hopefully she gives the catnip sprouts some encouraging meows during the day.

Trick or treat goodness (part 2)

Halloween spider wreath

This post could be alternately titled “Fun with plastic spiders & a hot glue gun”. There were a couple more decorations that I made up last Halloween that I’d like to share with you. My absolute favourite decoration was by far our wreath. It was super simple to make and also fairly inexpensive. You will need a black wreath (which I picked up on sale at Michaels), a bag of plastic Halloween rings (most dollar stores have them), a small pair of wire cutters, hot glue gun, and some wide Halloween wired ribbon. Here’s all you need to do to make a creepy, fun wreath:

Plastic rings, wire cutters, hot glue gunCutting plastic spider ring

1. Sort your plastic rings (I only used the spiders and mainly used the orange ones)
2. Using small wire cutters, snip off the band of each ring
3. Apply a small amount of hot glue on the back of the spider
4. Squeeze the spider onto the wreath (be careful not to burn yourself on the glue)
5. Repeat until you have covered your wreath in as many spiders as you like
6. Using the wired ribbon make a pretty bow (I’m really not very good at this, so any instructions Gluing plastic spiderPlastic spider ribbonyou can find online about making a bow, will be better than anything I can tell you)
7. Once you’re satisfied with your bow, glue some spiders on it
8. Attach the bow on the bottom of your wreath either by hot gluing it or tying it on with thread (depends on how big or what style of bow you make)

While you have the glue gun warmed up and those plastic rings handy, you can also make up some simple clothespin decorations, which I found inspiration for on Martha’s site:

1. Last year I ran out of time (I started making these about an hour before guests began arriving at our Halloween party), but I would suggest either painting or spray painting the clothespins black before you start and let dry
2. Take some plastic rings and snip the band off of each, as done above with the wreath project
3. Apply a dab of hot glue to the back of each ring
4. Squeeze onto the “front” of the clothespin (again be cautious of getting hot glue on your fingers when you do this)

Now you have some creepy decorations to clip onto the edge of bowls or where ever you can think to clip them. I like they way they dress up the treat table at a party and you can’t beat how simple they are to make.

Clothespins and plastic ringsHalloween clothespin decorationHalloween clothespin decoration

Trick or treat goodness (part 1)

Paper cat cutoutLast October was the first time that we got to celebrate Halloween in our very own home . So of course, I delved into making a variety of decorations, which I was able to re-use this year, with the addition of my spooky crochet spiders.

For decorating inspiration I turned to the one and only Martha, queen of Halloween. I don’t subscribe to her magazine, but the two issues each year that I buy are October and December, and there are generally packed with beautiful and fun ideas, some of which I feel like I can even do myself! Then there is the website, which is packed with even more ideas. So when I needed to start from scratch with Halloween decorations, I turned to good ‘ol Martha.

The first thing I was drawn to was a childhood classic. I knew I wanted to cut out some construction paper silhouettes to tape to our front window, which we always did to decorate at my parent’s house. Martha has lots of handy templates to download for free. I used these flying bat and spitting cat templates, although I increased the size of the bat. Buy some black construction paper, trace the templates, cut out, and voila! Pretty simple, eh?

Glitter, spray paint, and white glueThe next thing I tackled was slightly more complicated, but I was thrilled with the results. I found the inspiration for it on The Long Thread. I used the following materials: cardboard, utility knife, black spray paint, white glue, paint brush, black glitter, string, and a big branch. I used the same template from Martha as above, but used both the original and enlarged versions, so there would be two different sizes. Here’s the basics:

1. Cut the bats out of cardboard (I cut out seven total, a few small and a few large)
2. Spray paint the fronts and backs black, let dry
3. Brush one side with basic white glue and sprinkle with black glitter, let dry
4. Use a ball point pen to punch a hole through each bat in the middle of their heads
5. Cut varying lengths of string and thread each bat with one
6. Hang a branch wherever you will be displaying your bats (I put ours outside)
7. Tie each bat onto the branch
8. Stand back and watch them flutter

Cardboard batsCardboard batsOutdoor Halloween decorations

One giant leap

Well, I did it. I submitted an application to my first craft show and have been accepted. Fees have been paid. Confirmation has been sent. It looks like this is it! The beginning of a big ‘ol adventure! My friend and I are actually going to share a table since neither of us have done this before. There’s so much to do in preparation. I’ve been reading tons online about selling at craft shows and setting up your booth/table. Every spare hour in the evening is spent making items. Lists are being compiled of what I need to prepare, buy, design, etc. I hope to share my experience through the whole process here, so I guess you’re in for a crafty ride! Thanks in advance for reading and learning alongside with me! Oh, and by the way, the show I am participating in is the Market Collective, December 11-12, in Calgary.

The lonely tale of Mr. Sage and Mr. Thyme

Sage sproutWell, after letting more and more days pass without seeing any activity in the rosemary, oregano, and catnip pots, I’ve decided to add some fresh seeds to each of these and give them another go. I don’t really have a Plan B for the herb garden, but I have my dirt-covered fingers crossed that at least one of these will join my happy sage and thyme sprouts.

Speaking of which, the sage is looking lovely and healthy if not a bit odd in shape. Since I rotated the pot last week, they have curved completely in the other direction to follow the sunlight. I’m curious to see how they will shape themselves as I continue to turn their pot once a week. Oh, and how lovely, their itty-bitty leaves smell! I am truly enjoying my herb garden, even if only a couple of the plants are growing.

Good day Mr. Sage, hello Mr. Thyme

I have been saying hello to Mr. Sage everyday this week. He has returned the kindness by sprouting a couple more stems! It now appears that both types of sage that I planted have managed to grow. I’m not sure have very different they will be taste-wise, but the last time I had a herb garden, sage was one of the plants I wished I had more of to experiment in my cooking. Well, I’ve certainly got my wish!

Thyme sproutSo many people in the world wish for more thyme or maybe they wish for more “time”. In either case, I am happy to report that the thyme pot is no longer void of greenness. There are bunch of itty-bitty sprouts that have popped up, unfortunately all in one clump. I say “unfortunately” because I’m not sure that it’s such a good thing. I was hoping to have two or three separate thyme plants in the pot, but all the seeds I dropped in one hole seemed to have emerged. For now, I just keep cheering them all on.

There’s been no activity in the rosemary, oregano, or catnip pots. I’m not too sure how long I should wait before I decide re-try those. The catnip feels like it was a bit of a long shot, but I would happily give it another try. I have noticed how much my little sage and thyme sprouts reach towards the window for the sunlight and I’m still trying to decide if they are in the best spot or not. Obviously they are getting sunshine, but they sure do seem to want more. I think I will rotate the pots around, which should help straighten the sprouts up a bit.

This little herb garden of mine

Towards the beginning of September I finally got the gumption to plant an indoor herb garden. I’ve been slowly (oh, so slowly) collecting the seeds and pots. The supplies weren’t the real hang up for finally planting the garden though. Since we moved into our house about a year and half ago, I’d been a bit stumped as to where I should put the herb garden. Sure we get plenty of light, Calgary after all is one of the sunniest cities in Canada. It was more that I had been greatly spoiled by our old apartment in B.C., which had wide windowsills that could happily accommodate potted plants. No such luck in our house though, and so each time I thought about getting out the bag of soil and seed packs, I had to face the “small” issue of where the pots would go once filled.

Sure I could put up a small side table near the front window, but would the cat get into too much mischief with it there, seeing as she has claimed that area as her window to the world? Surely the kitchen would be the most appropriate and convenient spot for the herb garden, but with only one north facing window with a sink below, how would it work in there? Perhaps the office or sewing room could play house to the garden? I nix the sewing room idea as soon as I’ve had it. There’s just too much stuff on the go in there already. The office is not too full, but that’s because we still haven’t finished painting and getting things more permanently set-up in there. It is starting to become the “stuff-it-in-there-for-the-time-being-room” and will surely become full soon. So the herb garden is more likely to become buried behind miscellaneous bits in there. — At this point I’ve made my house sound a mess, but it’s not really. We’ve just managed to ignore a couple of rooms since moving in, as one tends to do once you get caught up in the daily routine. — And so I was back to considering the big front window, with its eastern exposure and beams of morning sunshine.

Pot of thymeI finally wake up one September day and think, “Alight, today I’m planting that darn herb garden that I’ve been thinking about so much, and then let slide off the to-do list too often.” I drag out the soil, the pots, the seeds, and trowel, and that’s when I start to doubt myself. “I’ve never really planted anything from seed before (I know, it’s hard to believe). Do I really know what I’m doing, or should I be reading about planting from seed before I do this?” And so the questions start to flow, but then I think, honestly, what’s the worse thing that could happen? They don’t grow. Fine, then I’d just try again. See, simple. So I grab the trowel and loving scoop and scatter and water, until I’ve got my five things planted: sage (two different kinds actually), rosemary, oregano, thyme, and catnip (yes, must have something for miss kitty in there). Now the defining moment of where should these lovelies live? I grab a folding TV dinner-style table and set it up below the front window. “Below” being the key word here as the table is not nearly tall enough and the plants sit well below the windowsill. Hhmmph. Well. It will just have to do, I tell myself.

As the days continue to past and I wait expectantly for something to sprout forth, we experience the rainiest and darkest September in recorded history (that’s not an official statistic, but I can’t remember a September like this before). I start to worry about the success of those little seeds, but one random morning, as I sit crocheting on the couch (still recovering from surgery) a patch of sunshine peaks through the window. I sit and watch it move across the living room and see all the spots that it reaches, and watch as it sadly, misses my herb garden that is perched just in the shade of the window. I put my crochet hook down and scoot some things around in the living room (just a rocking chair and big potted plant, in case you’re worried that I’m lifting couches when I shouldn’t be). I take all the pots off the side table, re-position the table near the television, and place the pots back on. Viola! A sunny spot for the herb garden.

Sage sproutA couple weeks still pass before I see any activity in the pots, but I don’t give up hope. The sun comes out more and more towards the end of September and by the beginning of October, we are finally having a lovely “summer” (yes, our actual summer months were truly crappy). And then it happens. I come home from work and plunk myself down on the couch for a few quiet minutes, when I glance over at the herb garden. There, a speck of green is peeking out. I jump up and peer into the pot. Mr. Sage has decided to make an appearance! Thank you lovely sunshine for finally coaxing them out of their dirt home.

Perhaps Mr. Sage will be able to convince some of his companions to join him. Until then, I wait patiently knowing that at least I managed to grow one thing from seed and many, many weeks from now I will be using fresh sage in my cooking. Oh, how I have missed having an herb garden!