Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not normally the type of person who makes resolutions, in part because I know I'm unlikely to keep them no matter how hard I try. For example, last year I broke with tradition and resolved to drink more water and take a multivitamin every day. That lasted up until the move to Ohio, which means about three months. The resolution did a marked nosedive after that, to the point where my bottle of vitamins has a layer of dust on the top.

But New Year's is as good a time as any to reflect on what I want to happen in the coming year, especially as I close out my Lazy Mama accounting for 2007 and plan for 2008. Another etsy seller suggested that we each list five things we plan to do to improve our sales in the coming year, which sounded like a good place to start.

I started brainstorming last night before bed (because all of my best thinking happens shortly before midnight), and when I came to bed I asked my husband the Innovative Thinker to come up with three ideas to add to my list. His first comment was, well, what do you want to be doing this time next year? Are you happy making a few things and a few patterns and you don't care about profit as long as you break even, or do you want to teach, or do you want to write books, or what?

That is a very good question, and it's one I hadn't really bothered to answer myself. When I started selling my patterns early this year, I sort of had the idea that it was a way to feel like I had a purpose beyond scrubbing applesauce off the wall and telling my daughter "no" 1000 times a day. Write a few patterns, see if anyone wants them, and see where it goes from there.

I have sold my patterns in California, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, and Kentucky, in person as well as through my etsy site. I have a fairly steady stream of traffic to the blog and a growing mailing list of current and prospective customers. I've sold my handmade items on etsy and have started to offer them via bricks-and-mortar stores, as well. I've joined forces with other Cleveland etsy sellers to do some joint marketing and support each other, meeting some wonderful ladies as a result. I've been having a blast, but I think my husband is right - I've reached the point where I need to actually plot a course for Lazy Mama beyond "I feel like selling tote bag patterns this week."

I'm still sketching out the bare bones of where I want to go, but I think I'm making progress. I'll save you from having to read the crappy original versions of my plan ("Um, I want to be Eleanor Burns, only without the divorce,"), waiting to make it public until I've got something that looks good and makes sense - which hopefully will be soon!

In the meantime, here's a great big "Thank you!" to all of you, regulars and first-time readers alike. You've given me a lot of support this year, both financial and psychological, and I really appreciate it. I'm wishing all of you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and above all CRAFTY new year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Christmas gift to myself

I'm done I'm done I'm done! And it's not even midnight!

Schaefer Yarn #216 Anne Candy Cane Socks, by Kim Salazar, in Austermann Step Sock Yarn color #14 Keisel.
Notice the (as close as possible) matching stripes. Notice the way the lace pattern rotates in opposite directions on the socks. Notice the fact that this yarn is really freaking fine and the needles I used were really freaking small and I still have both my sanity and good nature intact. And I told myself I would finish them for Christmas, and I did.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some NON LACEY SOCKS to make, just to restore my faith in my ability to finish socks in weeks instead of months. Stupid eight-row pattern repeat ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Free pattern - The (Almost) No-Sew Fairy Skirt

What you'll need:
  • One yard of each of four different colors of tulle or netting (finer works better - don't make more than one of the colors out of the really stiff stuff, or it'll be too itchy). This will make a skirt that's about 18" long - if you want it longer, just double the length of skirt you want, and buy that many inches of each color tulle.
  • One 10-yard spool of each of two different colors of 1/4" ribbon
  • A piece of 1-inch non-roll elastic that's large enough to fit the waist of the child snugly with about 1" of overlap at the ends

What to do:

  1. Overlap the ends of the elastic by about an inch, making sure you don't have the elastic twisted. Machine- or hand-sew the edges together through the overlap. If you think you may have to make the skirt larger in the future, use thread that's easy to see, and don't overlap your stitches much or it will be a pain to take out.
  2. Cut the tulle or netting into strips that are 36" long by about 4" wide. I do this by folding it in quarters and using a ruler and a rolling cutter, but you could use scissors if you had to.
  3. Cut the ribbon into pieces between 30" and 36" long (shorter for older kids, so you can get more pieces out of the spool).
  4. Fold one piece of tulle in half and put it under the elastic so that the fold is in the middle of the elastic circle and is toward your right. It isn't essential to have the ends of the tulle exactly even - in fact, it probably looks better if you don't.
  5. Use the tulle to make a slipknot around the elastic - bring the ends of the tulle up over the elastic and tuck them through the loop in the tulle, then pull the ends back to your left to tighten it around the elastic. You want it snug but not so tight that it rolls the elastic.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the remaining tulle and ribbon, alternating colors in whatever order you choose. Use enough strips to cover the elastic, but don't pack them in there so tightly that it starts getting weird looking. You should end up with a waistband that looks like this:
  7. Now comes the annoying part. In order to keep the slipknots from, well, slipping, you need to tie the tails together. To do this, take one tail from color A and tie it to one tail of color B. It doesn't matter if you use a square knot or a granny knot or some fancy thing you learned in Girl Scouts 20 years ago - just tie the suckers together. Then take the other tail of color B and tie it to one tail of Color C. Take the second C tail and tie it to a D, etc. You'll end up with each color tied to the color on either side of it. This will give you a waistband that looks like this:
  8. If you want, tie bells to the ends of some of the ribbons (or sew them to the elastic waist), or glue on fake flowers or sequins or whatever suits your fancy. The more sparkly and crusty it gets, the more the kid is going to like it ... and the less washable it will be, so use your judgement about how fancy it needs to get. Oh, and you may want to spray the skirt with Static Guard every once in a while - otherwise, the skirt tends to climb up the kid's body, eventually engulfing their mouth and asphyxiating them. Well, not really, but it IS sorta annoying to have the top layer of tulle stuck to you.

Please note that this pattern is for personal use ONLY and may not be reproduced except for your own use. If you wish to make these to sell, please contact me to secure permission. I'll probably give it to you, if you ask nicely and send me cookies (and a check).

I hope you enjoy this project - and that you send me lots of pictures of kids wearing your finished creations! I'd love to start a group on flickr, if we get enough fairies out there :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lazy Mama merchandise now available IRL!

In case anyone has noticed the sudden drop in the stock level in my etsy shop, it's not because some kind-hearted individual has come and purchased a bunch of stuff. Rather, it's because I've pulled a bunch of inventory from the etsy shop so I can display it at Silly Sprouts, a children's resale and consignment shop that just opened in North Ridgeville (OH).

I was in there last night dropping off my inventory of blankets, mittens, hats and stuffed animals, and I have to say, I was impressed by how organized the store is, especially given that it just opened Dec. 1. It's bright, with nice wide areas between the racks so there's plenty of room for strollers. The stuff is sorted by size and gender, and Nancy (the owner) has a pretty good selection of most sizes. I was especially pleased to note that she accepts most clothes, regardless of brand, as long as they are clean and in good shape. So many of the other shops in the area aren't interested in the stuff from Target or JCPenney, even if it's new, because they're so set in their "it must be Gymboree" ways.

Anyhoo, if you're in NE Ohio and in the market for new and gently used children's items, I highly recommend them. You can find Silly Sprouts at 32668 Center Ridge Road, in Mills Creek Commons (just east of the Education Center).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Little Capers

Alright, I don't know if this technically counts as handmade, but it is from a smaller company, and it is made in the USA, and it does support fellow moms-with-ideas, so I'm prepared to count it.

In the interest of prodding my daughter away from fairies and princesses (and toward clothing that might protect her from frostbite in the coming months), I purchased the following from Little Capers:
That's a long-sleeve t-shirt with generic super hero logo on the front, and a detachable cape on the back. Hurray for non-licensed superheroes! Hurray for capes! Hurray for washable costumes that can be worn in public and will fit in the carseat!

This is not a cheap gift, but if it's something that she can wear every day which will forestall at least part of the "you have to take that off to eat/sleep/go outside" arguing, it will be worth every penny. Assuming that she will wear it at all, mind you. She'll probably use it to top off that god-awful poofy ballet skirt I'm making, which will serve me right, I guess, but maybe, just maybe, I can get her to wear a pair of jeans. Once.

Little Capers come in various generic superhero styles (you've got to check them out - the Saturn one is soooooo cool!), in sizes from 6 months up to 6 years. Available at local boutiques in many states, the shirts are also available for purchase direct from the company at .

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New in my etsy shop


That's right ... if you've been dying for a Lazy Mama pattern, but aren't lucky enough to live in one of the six states where I'm distributed, have I got a deal for you!

All of the patterns you see listed over on the sidebar are now available in my etsy shop, in either paper or pdf format. Talk about instant gratification - you send me money, I email you the pdf file, you can have most of the project finished mere hours later!

Also, if you're an IRL sewing or yarn store who would like to order my patterns at the wholesale price, I can put up a custom listing for you on etsy and you can purchase directly through there, which means you can pay with a credit card, which is kinda handy, right? Any combination of six or more patterns qualifies for the wholesale price, so contact me through etsy or at lazymamadesigns (at) yahoo (doooot) com for more information.

More babble love

Those are my mittens, smack at the top of the "Babble Featured Fashion" section. Hurrah! Now, back to knitting ...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

(Almost) No Sew Fairy Skirt

Instructions to follow as soon as I actually finish the skirt, but I couldn't wait to share photos of Her Royal Highness Of The Constant Fairy-ing and Princess-ing and Dancing:

First iteration: Just tulle. Four yards of tulle. And a lot of static electricity.

Second iteration: Four yards of tulle, plus 20 yards of ribbon (and a lot of static electricity)

Next up: A yard of sparkly fabric that shreds itself if you look at it sideways, and (maybe) jingle bells, if the kid lets me

Wait until you see how easy these are - you're going to smack yourself in the forehead that you didn't think of it first. I didn't come up with it - I think I found the idea on Parenthacks or something - but I'm running wild with it, and I'm willing to write it up to share with others.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mystery Pay It Forward exchange

I found this PIF idea on Red Haired Lady Crochets, and I'm going to give it a try.

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange.

I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days. That is my promise. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

If you ask to participate, please leave your email address and blog contact information (if you're not on blogger) as well, so I can get in touch with you.

More handmade toddler gift suggestions

Next up on the fake-food roundup - crocheted "two-bite" cupcakes from pukashell creative designs.

I don't even know where to start with these. They're so tiny! They're so cute! They come packaged in a miniature muffin pan that is both tiny and cute!

I really waffled about buying these for Liza, since tiny amigurumi cupcakes aren't exactly labor-intensive. However, I decided that by the time I went out and bought the right colors of yarn (which I don't have) and the muffin tin (which I don't have) and the buttons (oh, the buttons! So cute! So not in my stash!) and finally sat down to make the things, not only would it be as expensive as buying them online, but I'd never get around to it and would end up with a bunch of yarn and buttons that never got used.

So, support a fellow etsy artist, keep my stash smaller, save time - what's not to love?

The only downside for you guys is that the artist doesn't have any currently in stock in her store, although there are some really cute larger cupcake playsets available, and the polymer clay jewelry that looks like dessert is pretty cute for older kids.

What's on my Christmas shopping list

First in a series of posts in which I chronicle the stuff I've managed to find for Liza (2 1/2) as part of our "Buy Handmade" holiday.

Disclaimer: I wanted to get her a shopping cart for Christmas, and handmade isn't really an option there. Wood would break a toe when she dropped it on her foot, and there aren't too many handcrafted plastic artisans around. So we bought one from Lead R Us, after ascertaining that the used ones on eBay cost more with shipping than new ones do, and the really used ones on craigslist were junky. I defend my decision to buy Cheapo Plastic Crap because I fully intend to run this thing into the ground, then pass it on via a consignment store or craigslist, so at least I'm going to reduce, reuse, or recycle it. Plus, it's coming from Santa, not me.


First featured item: Handmade felt fruits and veggies from handmade on

All of the stuff that Santa is bringing goes along with the grocery cart - I'm trying to replace her "Crappy Plastic Food" with "Fewer, Nicer Food That Doesn't Hurt As Much When You Step On It." When I saw the felt cat-toys that fellow Cleveland artist handmade makes, I immediately asked if she could do me a custom listing without the catnip. She was happy to comply.

The basket of fruits and veggies she made for us is so cute - even better in person than her beautiful photographs make it look. The corn cracks me up, with the husks and all. And the little picnic basket is soooo darling - I'm hoping Liza feels the same when she opens it. If not, I guess I've got a new decoration for my studio (or my kitchen, assuming we ever get around to starting the remodel).

Anyhow, stop by her shop and check out her stuff - and tell her I sent you! She won't give you a discount or anything, but at least I'll feel like I'm making a contribution to the Cleveland artistic economy :)