Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Handmade?

I adore buying handmade. Not just because I sell handmade either! I love buying handmade for several reasons that are very important to me.

1. I like my money to go to a person instead of a corporation. There are real people behind handmade products. They have real families. They have real stories. They aren't executives sitting in an office getting rich off the hard work of others. They are people like me. People like you. They work hard and they deserve to be paid well for it. I would rather hand my money over to them instead of Walmart or Target any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.

2. Handmade products have a story. I am all about stories! I love a good tale! Every handmade product has a story behind it. A story of a young single mother raising two beautiful daughters while sewing to put food on the table. A story of a middle aged man who left his desk job to follow his passion for working with wood. The story of inspiration sprung out of a single moment in time listening to a robin sing in the park. Those stories cling to the items and become a part of my home, my family, myself. I think it's beautiful.

3. Handmade products are higher quality. It's just true. People who make their own products take pride in them. They produce work that is amazingly high quality. Maybe it's just me but when I spend my money on something, I want the best. Handmade, in my very humble (sometimes) opinion, is the best.

4. Handmade products connect me to other people. This is my biggest reason for buying handmade. It is also my biggest reason for selling my own handmade products. When you buy a scarf from Wally World (shudder) you get a scarf that came off the assembly line, was made as cheaply as possible, is covered in chemicals and is completely impersonal. When you buy a scarf from me, you get a product that was thought up by me. I have carefully and with glee selected just the right yarn to knit or crochet it with. MY hands made that scarf. The same hands that knead the bread dough for my family's meals. The same hands that wipe the tears from my child's eyes when they are hurt or sad or afraid. The same hands pick flowers and vegetables from my garden. A handmade product is highly personal. Every time you wear a handmade scarf or drink your coffee out of a handmade mug or look in awe at a handmade art piece you are connected to another human being. It is an awesome and humbling thing to think about. In this vast world, this infinite universe, we can connect to other people. People we never would have met, never would have know and they become a part of our lives through their product. I just love that!

5. Handmade products connect us with our past. When I pick up my crochet hook I cannot help but think of the thousands of women through history who have made exactly the same stitches I am making. My great-grandmother crocheted. I only knew her for a few year of my life but every time I crochet, every time I wear a crocheted scarf or snuggle my children into bed in a crocheted blanket, I think of Great Grandma Doris. These arts, these crafts have been passed down generation to generation and when we participate in them, whether through the craft itself or just by using a handcrafted product, we are connected to our ancestry, our history.

Those are the big ones for me. Those reasons and so many more are why I buy handmade whenever possible. What are your reasons?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Handy Dandy Holiday Bazaar Hints and Tricks

The holiday season is almost upon us and for serious business crafters that means one thing. Bazaar season. Oh yes, we flock in droves to eight foot tables to sell our beautifully handcrafted items. We love to make them, we love to sell them and we LOVE to see you take home something we lovingly made to be a special gift on Christmas day. But holiday bazaars are not all about glamour. In fact, they are downright hard work. So I present to you, oh crafter extradonaire, this first installment of helpful hints for crafting bazaars. You can look for the next one next Sunday!

1. Wear comfortable shoes. This is a must. You will be on your feet all. Day. Long. If you’ve never done a craft show or bazaar before this is your warning. Your feet will swell, your legs will ache and if you go for the oh so pretty but feet murdering high heels you will want to saw your feet off before the end of the day. Practical can pretty too but always, always go for some comfort.

2. Smile! I can’t tell you how many times I have not bought from a great crafter because of their negative energy. When people shop at lovely little bazaars with beautiful handcrafted items they want to see a sweet and beautiful person behind the craft. And you are a sweet and beautiful person! So let it shine. If you’re having a bad show and you are discouraged smile anyway and tell that potential customer who asks that you’re having a great show, thanks so much for asking! Do not ever, ever complain. Not to the potential customer, not to the other vendors, not even to yourself. Don’t give the negativity a foothold. I once did a show that I paid $500 to attend (gasp, faint) and I made around $100. I cannot quite think of a more disheartening show. But I still smiled at everyone who came to my booth and told them my day was going fantastically. In the case of craft shows, misery does not love company. So stuff it.

3. Set a goal. How much money do you need to come in from this show? That’s your minimum goal. How much would you like to see from this show? That your moderate goal. How much would make you jump through the roof, buy a round for the bar, fly to the moon and squeal like a pig? That’s your high goal. Simple, no? A goal helps you prepare and plan and dream a little. Set them and then work your arse of to achieve them.

4. Have enough product. This one seems so simple but it’s crucial. What’s your high goal? $1000? $5000? Here’s a secret. Ok, it’s really just common sense but it hit me strongly one day and left an impression. You can only make as much money as you have product to sell. If your high goal is $5000 and you only have $1000 of inventory how exactly can you hit that high goal? Sure, you could do some custom orders but $4000 in custom orders might be pushing it just a bit. So make and bring enough products to meet your goal.

5. Bring a friend. If it is at all possible, bring a friend along for the ride. It sucks to have to leave your booth unattended just so you can urinate. It’s also nice to have someone to chat with a bit during the slow times. It’s also super nice to have someone to be your gopher. There might be a time that you would just kill for a coffee because you stayed up until 2am pricing your beautiful creations and now it’s getting close to closing time and you can’t keep your eyes open. Aha, but you have brought your bestest friend Sally Sue! She can run over and get you a coffee. Beautiful. Now you’re awake, your booth was never left alone and you’re a happy crafter once again. Just make sure you have some mints for after that coffee. ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Who am I?

I just read a post on the Etsy blog about success. The woman who wrote it touted that to be successful, the key is to be yourself. Ok, me thinks, that's easy. Or is it? I suppose before I can be true to myself, I know who I am. So, who am I?

I'm the girl who wears flip flops in the snow because I hate to have my feet confined by socks and shoes.

I love sunrises more than sunsets because I love to see the new day dawn with beautiful possibility.

I wish I could live on the beach or in the mountains, away from it all, a happy hermit with my family.

My favorite color is purple.

I love to feed people. I love to hear that people like the food I make for them.

I am very trusting (too trusting) until someone breaks my trust. Then I never trust said person again. Ever.

I am passionate about gay and lesbian rights.

I believe all children are beautiful and special and precious and should be cherished and treasured above all else.

I like classic rock and country and pop and jazz and classical music. Actually the only music I don't like is rap.

My all time favorite song is "Both Sides Now" by Jodi Mitchell.

I believe religion should be set aside for love and peace.

I look forward to Eggnog Lattes all. year. long.

I like shiny, glittery things.

I love vintage and retro and shabby chic. If it's old, if it has a story, I'm hooked.

I love handmade for the same reasons as old things: The stories they tell.

I only drink organic coffee and only with coffee mate creamer. Anything else just isn't coffee.

I am twenty-seven years old and I still don't want to grow up.

My life, no matter where I am in it, is uniquely mine and I love it. The good, the bad, the inbetween. I am thankful for each moment of it and I plan to enjoy them!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Photo of the Week - Sept 1st

Autumn is descending upon us! September is here! I love the colors and smells and textures and tastes of this fiery season. I think one of my favorite things about Autumn though is the fabulous flowers we only get to see in the fall. Like sunflowers. This is one of my favorite sunflower photos. It was taken last year in my mother's garden. The blazing red and burnt orange are the perfect compliments to this season.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Enjoying Life

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Am I enjoying life or am I just surviving it? I don't want to get so caught up in my to do list that I never enjoy my life. I have such a life to enjoy! Five sparkling babes, friends, good food, beauty in nature, decadent yarns, a husband I love... The list goes on.

I find I often get buried under all the work I have to do. Between the dishes, the kids' needs, vacuuming and taking out the trash I get tired and irritable and I sometimes go through a whole day without pausing and taking an hour or two to just enjoy. Enjoy the smile on my baby's face. Enjoy my daughter's laughter. Enjoy the big boys playing nicely together. Enjoy the sight of ripe, round tomatoes on the vines outside. Enjoy the song of a bird or the way the clouds drift lazily across the sky. I don't do that every day and you know what? It's a travesty!

This week I'm going to remind myself to enjoy. Sure, life can be survived but why bother surviving if you're not going to enjoy it?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ready For Fall

I'm ready fall and the things come with it...

Soups, stews and chilis...

Trees on fire with reds and golds...

Clear days and chilly air...

Warm sweaters and scarves...

The smell of pumpkin pie...

Children jumping in piles of leaves...

...I can't wait for fall!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My favorite summertime memory...

Summer is drawing to a close, whether we're ready for it or not. School will start here in less than three weeks and I'm trying to squeeze every last momemt with them. It goes too fast, this fleeting thing we call childhood.

We had a very good summer. My huaband and I spent a relaxing week in Kauai with only the baby and it was quite literally paradise. We had a blast taking our five children to the wilderness area of North Central Idaho. There we fished, hiked and just hung out together.

More recently we took the kids to the County Fair where we saw snakes, aliens, held a tiger cub and watched the monster trucks.

All of these events were fun but I think the moments I loved the most were those in between the events. The sleepy snuggles I got each morning on the couch. The laughter and squeals of children playing in the sprinkler. The nights we cozied up with popcorn and watched a movie together. Those are the moments I cherish, the moments that are so fleeting and those are the moments I want to remember for the rest of my life when I think back on the summer of 2010.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Boy

Today is my son Micah's birthday. He's six. It seems impossible that six whole years have passed since the dr laid that tiny baby in my arms. Yet here he is, roudy, loud, sweet and feisty!

I try not to wish for too much for my kids as I want them to do their own wishing and dreaming without mine being in the way but I will wish this much for my son this coming year. I wish upon him hope, wisdom, kindness, passion and love. I wish him a year filled with these things, a year he will look back on fondly and a year that he will grow in.

To my sweet, darling boy, I love you more than you can comprehend. My life would be so much less without you in it. You bring me smiles and joy when I feel overwhelmed and tired. You bring me love. I cannot imagine my life void of you. Have a beautiful year, Mr. Micah Man.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Most Cherished Handmade Possession

This week's question in my Create Crochet Team was: What is your most cherished handmade possession?

This one is hard for me to answer. I am most fortunate to have a rather craft family and as such I have been the most grateful recipient of many, many handmade things.

I have a beautiful doll cradle that my grandfather built. It housed many of my favorite dolls and now lovingly rocks my own daughter's dolls.

I have a hand-rusted, welded flower bird feeder that my father made for me. It holds a very special place in my heart. I remember when he pointed it out to me and told me he'd made it for me and take it home. I remember feeling loved by my dad and what an amazing feeling that is for a girl!

I have a child-sized quilt that my great-aunt made when I was born. It has been hand embroidered with all the names of my relatives. It must have taken her ages! I carried it everywhere as a child and my son Micah now sleeps with it every night.

I have a porcelin doll that my grandmother lovingly put together for me. She even lovingly glued it back together when it fell out of bed.

I have a wooden plaque, hand-carved and hand-written upon it a poem that my mother wrote when she was just a teen. It's called "Opinions" and I still find it profound.

I have blankets, hats and scarves that my best friend has made for me, careful consideration on her part put into the colors, yarns and fabrics.

I have pottery that my sister made for me when she was still in school, my favorite being the sculptured hampster she made in likeness of my childhood pet.

I cannot forget the myriad of artwork, crafts and even jewelry that my children have produced and given to me with smiles lighting up their faces, joy beaming from their eyes. I have kept it ALL.

All of these things hold very special places in my home and in my heart. I could no sooner pick a favorite than I could pick a favorite star in the sky. Each of them fills my soul with memories more precious to me than any store-bought item could ever hold. Perhaps the most treasured handmade possession is the creativity that has been passed down to me, generation to generation.

It is with this burden and passion for the handmade that I myself create. Whether it's something for my children, a friend, my mother, grandmother or to sell, I remember that a handmade item will take with it a piece of the soul of the creator and weave that piece of soul with another, to create what only handmade items can - an heirloom.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Song of my Life

Like the story of my life but with more rhythm. We were asked this week on our team thread which song most represents our life. While this might give some people pause to figure out just which song fits them, my answer was instantaneous. "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell. No question.

I love this song for many reasons and at different points in my life it has meant different things to me. I see in these a lyrics a woman who is an optomist, even while knowing her optimism is foolish. I see a woman who was once hopeful and positive, has had life beat her down and with pain in her heart still looks back and sees the good. I see a lot of myself.

My life has not always been easy, but neither would I say that it's been terribly hard. There has been pain to be sure. Perhaps the most vivid, biting scar is the one laid upon me when we lost our first son not too long into the second trimester. Pain like that lingers. Clouds that once looked like ice cream castles can quickly turn black and only block the sun. The light that once reflected off them and shone through them disappears, almost as if we never felt it's warmth at all. But if you're like the woman in the song, you remember that warmth and the memory is enough to remind you that you will feel the warmth again.

I have looked at life through the eyes of a young woman, a child really, who sees only bright futures, candy coated love stories and circus crowds. I have also looked at life through the eyes of an older woman who knows that love stories sometimes end sadly, that futures can be cut short and circus crowds sometimes trample you. It's not the pain I hold in my heart though. It's the good. The simple and the beautiful and the often profound that sneak into my life and fill me with such joy I cannot even fathom the pain. Something is truly gained by living every day. I gain it each day I choose to embrace what I have, accept that is mine and own it.

But then again, I often wonder if I really know life at all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adventures in Yarn Dying

I have been wanting to attempt yarn dying for a while now. Last week I finally decided to give it go after being inspired by a team member who started dying. I bought some plain undyed wool yarn and two packets of kool aid and gathered the kids to help me. I always try to invovle the kids in anything creative. I believe it's important to foster that in children.
Our first step was to soak the yarn in hot water to make it receptive to the dye.

The kids thought it looked pretty interesting!

Then we added color!

And our finished product:

I am very happy with how it turned out and I can't wait to dye some more! We're calling this batch strawberry lemonade!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Question

My team on Etsy (Create Crochet) has a weekly question and this week's is: What inspires you? What is your muse?

I find that there is one thing that truly inspires me. Nothing moves me to tears, sends my brain whirring or creates such emotion in me as nature does.

My husband and I recently came home from a vacation to the Island of Kauai. The sand, the sea, the mountains, the waterfalls and the greenery whispered to my soul just as surely as a lover whispers to his love. I found myself lost in the abundance of natural wonders. That kind of beauty and history... Sacred places untouched for millions of years, paths traveled by people long past and waters swam in by those we come from... I came back with visions of scarves that fall like the waters off the Na Pali and purses in the colors of turquoise and green like the vast oceans and fibers as natural as the ferns falling from the rocks in the Fern Grotto. I spent quite a few hours sitting on our pation overlooking the trees, the moutains and the ocean, hook in hand, creating.

In just a few days my family and I are heading for the wilderness in Idaho. What visions await us there? I have some ideas as I spent many of my summers as a youth in Idaho. It has always been an inspiring place to me and I am making sure to pack plenty of yarn and hooks!

Yes, nature by far with her abundance of random beauty, inspires me in ways I cannot describe. Colors and textures and visual masterpiece await everywhere on this mother planet we call home.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Create Crochet's Question of the Week

The question for our team this week is: If you could go on an expense-paid trip, where would you go?

This isn't actually an easy question for me. There are so many places I'd love to visit! I'd love to go to Germany to see my heritage and ancestory. I'd love to go back to Korea and revisit the culture, language and people. I'd love to throw a backpack on my shoulders and trudge through the European countryside. Where to pick? It's almost as hard as when my husband and I actually plan a vacation, although at least then we are limited by budget!

I think if I were given free reign, I would take my husband and my children and I would head to Amish country for a few months. I would love to cast aside electronics and conveniences and experience a simpler life. I would love for my children to experience this life as well. I think it would teach us so much about each other and more importantly, about ourselves.

How can a person discover their true self in this world of distractions? It seems everywhere we turn there is something to keep us from looking inward and examining our heart. A new game, an internet chat room, a tv show, a phone call... Rarely do we get to just buckle down and work hard and be with ourself in the quiet. I find it the one thing we continue to lose as we "progress". I would love to take a few months with the people I cherish most and find it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How I Became a Hooker

I am proudly a member of Etsy's CreateCrochet Team and we have started doing a weekly blog question. This week's question: How did you get started crocheting?

I'm going to make a confession. I haven't been hooking very long. You could actually say I'm rather new at it. My journey into needlecraft began around Christmas of 2008. I was working at a bazaar selling my photography and brought along a friend to keep me company. She in turn brought some crocheting to keep her busy. I was fascinated but I hated the idea of having to count stitches. Still, I wanted to buy pretty yarn and turn into something useable. I asked my mom for needles and a book on how to knit for Christmas. She got me several and I sat down and taught myself to knit.

I was instantly hooked on needlecraft. As the year progressed, so did my desire to learn to crochet. So this last Christmas, my sweet husband bought me a book on how to crochet. It was trying at first. I didn't think I was going to get it. I understood the concept but was having trouble translating that to the yarn. I couldn't get my fingers to work right. On top of it all, I was learning right-handed and I am left-handed.

I shared my frustrations with a friend who, lo and behold, crocheted! She quickly figured out my problem. I was usinga VERY small hook. She loaned me an array of bigger hooks and within the week I'd made two hats and a scarf. At that point, I was beyond hooked. I was addicted.

That was January. Now, in May, I have an Etsy Shop and have crocheted around forty purses, countless hats, scarves and other accessories. I have purses being sold in two boutiques in VA and have sent my products as far as Australia. What was just a desire to learn has turned into quite a nice little business. I even have dreams of replacing my husband's income.

While I don't have a sweet story about a grandmother lovingly teaching me stitches, one of my favorite things about crocheting is the connectedness I feel with history. Every time I pick up my hook and begin to stitch, I think of how many women through history have done just exactly that. It is akin to the feeling I get when kneading bread dough and planting corn. A piece of the past, alive in me. One I hope to pass on to each of my children.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bags, Bags, Bags!

I think I may have just found my niche in this world of crochet. Handbags. Oh how I love to make handbags. I've been having an absolute blast making purses, bags and clutches with all different kinds of yarns, adding embellishments and bringing designs from mere ideas in my head to an actual product. I love it so much, I've decided my etsy shop is going to go in only two directions now: hats and handbags.

A sampling of some of the bags currently for sale in my shop and a few that will be listed in the next week!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Blog!

I am so excited to start this blog! I spend a lot of time creating and most of that creating time is done in needlework, both knitting and crocheting. I am absolutely addicted to beautiful yarns and try to use the very best in my creations. This blog will be a place for me to share my latest creations (which can always be purchased at my etsy shop:, craft purchases and some of my technique. I hope you're ready... My life is a wild ride!

A bit about me:

My name is Lacey, a name given to me on a flight of fancy by my mother when she decided the name I had already been given would not actually work out so well for me. So I went from being Kerianne, a very old and lovely Irish name to being Lacey, a rather more modern and spunky name. Good choice, Mom.I live in the charming town of Vancouver, WA which, contrary to popular opinion is not in fact a suburb of Portland, OR. We were here first, ergo THEY are the suburb. Of course, they have cooler night clubs and restaurants, but still. We were founded by Lewis and Clark and that’s pretty nifty.So, here I am with my second name in the city that really came first. I am married to my overly dramatic although gloriously sweet, saxophone playing, guitar learning, kid wrestling, generally fantastic husband Joel. He is my soul mate. Who else would put up with me and my rather numerous quirks? We have five children who while loud and sometimes entirely obnoxious are the cutest, sweetest most amazing creatures to ever walk this earth. I love them and it is as simple as that. Their names (which I am quite proud of and are actually the first names given them, not round two like my mother’s chosen path) are Gideon and Gabriel (these would be our six year old twins), Micah (our five year old who was a BIG surprise), Loralei (our only daughter, currently going through the terrible threes) and Kai (our final child, the true baby of our family, turning one in June). We also enjoy the company of our two mischievous cats, Simon and Oscar, brothers we rescued and have grown to both love and hate, depending on if they’re snuggled up purring or jumping on the counter to steal our dinner.If it’s sunny (hey, it happens sometimes around here!) you can find me outside in my garden or lugging all my kids to the beach. I usually have a cup of coffee or tea in my hand, depending on whether I’m feeling American or British at the given moment. I’m not actually British and have in fact never even been to England but sometimes I do think it would be so much more fun to be British with the accent and the tea and the really cool, really big clock. I love sunrises more than sunsets, farmer’s markets, fresh flowers, ridiculously expensive yarns, bargain finds, spring and going barefoot. I hate cleaning the house, hearing my children fight, people who spit for no reason and the amount of money we pay our teachers (seriously, do you know how much work they do? They need a raise!). My life in a nutshell. It’s wild, it’s crazy and at times I want to pull out my hair but you know what? I am totally and completely in love with it. As I tell my children frequently, live well, live loud and have fun. You don’t get a second chance, babe.