Balancing Act

With all the things going on in our house with the remodel, we’ve been discombobulated in the rest of the house. This means my crocheting has been stashed away. So I haven’t really been crocheting at all.

Love a great yarn sale…

Now there are two things which sooth me – crocheting and writing. There’s nothing better than having a movie weekend and working on a crochet project. Or to have a week off work and spend as much time as possible writing.

July I released Through Destiny’s Eyes. In August I was part of Into the Dark anthology and To the Moon and Back anthology. I loved both opportunities. They tapped into different writing challenges for me. Saturday I release Paranormal Investigator Files and I’ve been prepping for this event. I also have a release a month through February.

That’s a lot of marketing and promotional work. It’s detail work which is often repetitive. This is not my favorite thing to do but if I don’t then no sales. So it’s an essential activity I must do.

The opportunity to be part of another anthology came to me. Pushing myself to finish a short story in about a month made me realize how much I love writing. Pumping out anywhere from 2K to 5K or more in a night satisfies me in a way I don’t know that I can describe. It takes me to a place I rarely go. I feel fulfilled and satisfied with me. I get the same feeling when I crochet.

Clearly I need to find a balance. I’ve struggled with blurred and double vision and headaches because I’m spending so much time on the computer. So tonight instead of feverishly trying to get promotions done so I can squeak out some family and writing time, I spent tonight with family and not looking at my computer. I started designing a new pattern for crocheting and have really enjoyed crocheting – playing with colors and stitches and figuring out what works.

This was one of my best purchases

Tomorrow night, I’ll be working on the short story to edit, rewrite and see if I can squish it down to 15K. In my head, I’ve accepted I will end up publishing it myself. Don’t get me wrong – I want to be in the anthology. I just like a backup plan. So when I’m revising and editing, I’ll be looking at how to revamp it so I can expand it if I need to publish it myself if needed.

I need a little bit of all – practically I need to have time to promote my books, time to write and time to crochet and design. So I’m working on it. This weekend, a bit of promoting and crocheting. Then later this month I have a week off and I’ll spend those days juggling all three activities. My hope is I’ll be able to finish a project or two for writing. But also work on crocheting and designing. I have gifts to make for the holidays and biographies to watch (or movies or ???). Intertwined with those activities, I’ll work on promoting.

Yarn and Other Delights

I’ve been so busy over the last few months, I’ve barely had time to breath let alone think about putting two coherent thoughts together. One thing I’ve been doing – crocheting.

This weekend I went to a huge sale at Herrschners. It was LOVELY. Yes I know it was shopping but I got to look at a lot of discounted yarn. Some of it was totally worth it and some was just meh.

More important, I got to spend time with my middle daughter and a friend. It’s a two hour drive. We had good conversation, fun craft shopping, and good food.

We were up at the butt crack of dawn which is not my favorite time of day at all. But it is a two hour drive one way. We were home by mid afternoon. Not only was it fun to shop / buy but it was fun to come home and sort it out, label it (yup my daughter claimed some of it) and organize it.

crochet cotton and scrubby yarn

I got a ton of crochet cotton. This is the yarn I use the most. I make a lot of dishcloths, coasters, pot holders, and so much more. I got cones that were a third off the regular price. Sorry – for those who don’t crochet – a cone is a large (cone shaped) spool of crochet cotton. It comes in skeins – about 3 oz typically – or cones which are several times larger than the skeins.

I found a number of skeins for only $1. A FREAKING dollar! Most skeins range in price from $2-3 up. Some of the skeins for a dollar were originally $5-8 a skein.

My daughter pushed the cart. We tried to stay together but she wandered away while I chatted with a YouTube crafter. When I saw her next, the cart was full – though yarn is squishy so it wasn’t really full.

Yarn, yarn, and more yarn!
First table full

I went with the intention of getting yarn for three projects and some accessories. The yarn part I was successful on but I opted to get some of the accessories from Amazon and I’m still looking for the rest.

In the process of talking about what I wanted, I realized I needed to get the patterns off my phone and into documents and folders so I could work on publishing. I started sending them to my email. I really need to do this process more often because I ended up sending 58 files to my email. Now I have the tedious process getting them into files on my flashdrive.

I’m working on three leaflet/books – maybe actual books rather than just single patterns. The three are going to be – Spa Day, Scarves, and Kitchen. I might do another blanket one as I’ve got one already done and three more in mind but this will likely be a leaflet rather than a book.

I’ve got two weeks of vacation coming up shortly. I cannot wait. My initial plan was to write the entire time. That isn’t going to happen. I let it be known I was taking vacation and now the universe has interfered. One of my daughters is coming home for a short visit. I’ve got an editing job. There’s a holiday during these two weeks so others will be home. So much for a writing retreat right at home.

It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in yarn shopping like this. I’ve been working to use up my stash. This was fun and well worth it. Thank you Vicki for my two gifts – birthday and Christmas. Guess what’s on my list for this Christmas.

Getting a Project Started

Recently I pulled out a bag of yarn and said, I’m going to use up all of these cakes. I only had one skein or cake of each color. This limits what I can make from these as they were each multi-colored. Combining the colors was not really an option.

I decided I was going to design a bunch of scarves for a booklet. Now who wanted the product? Well a variety of people. A couple of nieces, a daughter, a couple of friends, a nephew all volunteered to take the end product.

These videos (and these are only my second set of videos so please be kind) show how to get started with a project.

Items needed for a crochet project
Getting started and yarn issues
The beginning chain – or foundation crochet
The beginning of the pattern

Now after I shot these videos, I realized I didn’t like the pattern I show so I made some changes. Okay a lot of changes. I did still start with a foundation single crochet (fsc) but the pattern was completely different.

Final Product

How I Design

I’ve made my own patterns for decades. I love using yarn and my hook to make something that I need or want. My obsession with crochet started at 12 and has worked it’s way from something fun to a passion.

I like the exploration of designing and the creativity. What does it look like if I combine this stitch with this stitch? Or what happens when I use this technique in a little different way?

Here is a series of videos where I talk about design. They are short (around a minute) and experimental on my part. I’ve never done videos before so please be kind about the unprofessional camera work.

Video 1 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 2 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 3 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 4 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 5 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 6 on designing a crochet pattern

These videos should give a basic outline of what I go through when I design a project. I spend a lot of time considering what the yarn will look like, how it will work up, and what the individual will like. I also take into consideration the purpose of the project. All of these thoughts go into the design and then there’s the oh shit that’s not going to work moment where I end up ripping out and starting new or changing the design completely.

Open for Business.

I took the plunge today and started my shop on my website. This is an exciting step for me. I’m able to offer discounts and sales more easily than anywhere else.

Right now there’s only a few items listed. I’ve got two book series listed for sale and a few crochet patterns which can be downloaded right from my site!

This shop feature is one of the reasons I switched to the new website. It offers me the opportunity to have more control over the price of my items. There are a variety of features which offer a lot of options that aren’t available elsewhere.

Please go to the Shop and wander around. At the bottom on the product page is a place for you to like a product, if you so wish.

Over the next few weeks, my plan is to add all of my books, short stories, and crochet patterns. I also plan to add completed crochet items which will be one time offers available to the first person to purchase.

Three Day Weekend!

It’s always nice to have an extra day in my weekend. This weekend I went to the City Market at the Whitewater Public Library. I had my books and crochet items and my niece took her jewelry she’s been making.

Winter before our tree came down

The day did not start out great with about 6″ of snow falling overnight. But we took her SUV rather than my car. Her vehicle is higher off the ground than mine so it made sense since our road wasn’t plowed yet.

I figured this sale would be a wash. The weather sucked and people were still digging out. But I was wrong. There wasn’t great traffic but we had about a hundred people come through. Many of them said they walked rather than drove which completely makes sense. Thank you to them for braving the snow and weather!

Most of my day was spent on going to the City Market and then spending time with my niece after. She dug through some of the rocks we have here. We also talked a lot about how to improve our set up.

By the time she left, I was wiped but one of my customers asked for a custom crochet item so I went to buy the yarn for that. We ran a couple of errands before we came home for the night. My hope was I would spend the rest of the weekend at home getting work done.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not mean you pay more.

Nope. I ended up going out yesterday morning to Michaels for yarn shopping. They are having a buy 2 get 1 free sale on their yarn. Now this is a time when I’d like to have a stash of money. I bought yarn for two blankets and a couple of other projects but it’s a great deal especially when you’re looking at the Bernat Blanket. Between coupons and the sale, I paid only about $6.66 a skein. This is a great deal.

After I purchased the yarn for the custom project, the person contacted me and wanted something different so I had to go buy different colors of the Lion Brand Hometown yarn which I used to make a hat. This yarn is soft, warn and bulky. Bulky means it works up quick. I was able to finish the project in about an hour, maybe a bit less.

After that I worked on a scarf made with Loopity Loop yarn. I do not recommend this yarn. It’s by Big Twist and some of their yarn is wonderful but I’m a lot disappointed with this. So the premise of this yarn is that you don’t need to know how to knit or crochet but can just weave through the loops to create different things.

First this is a new technique to the person but there are no directions to go with it. Other brands have done this by putting instructions on the inside of the label. I had to go to their website to find directions. Not hard but time consuming.

Second this is time consuming. With my crochet hook, I can take the same size yarn and create a scarf or blanket in half the time this weaving takes.

Third we initially bought one skein thinking that would be enough to make a scarf. From the ounces, I would have thought so but know. We ended up back there on Sunday and buying two more.

This leads to my fourth grumble about this year. Regular price is $11.99 on these. So if you want to make a long infinity scarf from this you need approximately three skeins making your scarf cost almost $36. That is ridiculous. I can buy a skein of Bernat Blanket for $10.99 at the highest and make a scarf out of that in an hour or so. Making it much more cost effective to buy the Bernat yarn.

It always makes me sad when have high hopes for a yarn. The quality of the yarn is good, sturdy, soft, warm. But the other features are just absolutely disappointing.

I finished my day yesterday with some paid editing and then editing of my own by rereading / editing one of my own books. I do this by pulling it up on Kindle and highlighting the text I want to change.

Mom and Aimee (I think)

Today has all been computer work, catching up on emails, posting things, checking social media, and a few other things. Before the day is done, I’ll probably spend an hour working on my mother’s photo albums. There are so many of them and it would be nice to get a few cleared out. I’ve got four or five ready to let the family know and a few others that are in maybe piles but I’d like to get through first sort of all of them. This will allow me to pull the ones I already have electronically.

Once I get that round of sorting done, it will be a matter of picking an album and going through to see what needs scanning. I’ve already got a HUGE box of those albums. It’s going to be a time consuming project for the next year or so. I haven’t even looked at the slides – hundreds, possibly thousands of them. Those may have to be dealt with separately / differently.

Not Really Scrap Yarn

In a week, I’m going to a city market sale. This is the first time I’ve really done anything like this. I didn’t have a lot of stock built up so I was feeling nervous about it. My craft room is in chaos with moving things in and out of my house and the holidays. I’ve not had a chance to go in, dig in, and get it organized again.

Flower valance made for middle daughter

I sent my husband in to my pickling crock. There’s a giant pickling crock (old days they made gallons of pickles in these large crocks) which I use for storing my scrap balls of yarn. With my worsted weight yarn, I saved it all for my mom who made slippers out of it.

Ken hasn’t a clue about yarn – other than I spend money on it. I sent him in with instructions to grab me six or seven balls. From the first group of balls he grabbed I made three headbands, three hats, a scarf, and a shawl.

Leaves on the flower valance

Last night I knew I was going to be done with the yarn he brought me so I asked him to go yarn ball hunting for me again. I finished off the shawl from the first group and looked at the next group. Two of the balls really called to me – one because it was super soft and the other because it was large (oversized) yarn which I knew would make up quick. I used the supersized yarn to make another headband. The super soft yarn – also bigger yarn – called to me. This is so soft you feel like you’re floating when you touch it. I love the yarn – the problem – too little yarn for a headband. So what am I going to do with it? Plus it is orange – a bright and often difficult color for a lot of people. So I came up with an idea. I grabbed a smaller ball (yup left over from the first round of projects). It was gray – a nice calm color to contrast the brightness of the orange. I created a border. Now I worried it would be too much of a contrast because it was smaller yarn and drastically different color. To be fair, the base in orange was a make and tear out about three times before I got the yarn to go as far as I needed it to. This also meant it wasn’t quite long enough for a headband.

Daisy Coasters

The gray had to tone down the orange, add length and width to the headband, and make the piece long enough to be an actual headband. A lot of work for a little ball of yarn. However, I think it worked out nicely. In fact I liked it so much I’ve written up the pattern.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve made coasters, dishcloths, headbands, scarf, shawl, and hats all for this city market I’m going to in an effort to promote my books and sell my crocheting.

Lots of dishcloths

I always struggle with pricing but I’m researching and getting things organized. By Friday night, I’m hoping to have more done. I’m also hoping to get the pricing on all the items. I want to have my boxes all organized and ready to go so Saturday morning, it’s a matter of putting them in my car and going.

To me it’s a challenge when I’m given a ball of yarn to see how far I can stretch it. Will it make a hat or do I need to stretch it? If I combine these two different yarns will they look good together or am I being too daring? But those little balls of yarn can actually make some very interesting things. It may sound crazy – but hey not the first time I’ve been called that – but let the yarn tell you what it wants to be.

Five of Eleven

I can’t believe my time off is almost half over.  Where did the time go?  I know where it went – lots of holiday things but I’ve still managed to be productive.

All the crocheting I needed to get done, I finished on Sunday!  I was very pleased to finish the slippers Sunday instead of Monday – pushing the deadline of needing them done by Christmas.  Last night I watched a new show while I crocheted.  Wynonna Earp – I thought it was going to be an old time western from the female perspective.  Nope.  It’s a modern paranormal show based on the descendant of Wyatt Earp.  It was enthralling.  There are definitely lots of twists and turns.  I’m binging the first season so tonight when I work on the afghan I’ve got going, I’ll be watching it.

Writing – I’ve been working on updating a bunch of stuff.  It’s been a very productive time which I’m seeing the end of the tunnel for this project.

Today I’m alone in my house.  I can’t remember the last time I was alone in my house for a full day.  I’m enjoying it.  I’ve gotten through the massive number of emails, worked on my website (ongoing) and hope to finish the project today.

In addition, I’ve made phone calls for my daughter and corresponded with our insurance and a variety of other people.

I’ve got a sale going on Smashwords!  Free books include Wayfarer, Defenders of the People, and a short story collection Grandma’s Doilies.  The rest of the Wayfarer and Defenders series are 25% off along with Murder Next Door, Dragon Lord’s Mate, Draconian Peace and Quick & Easy Throws.  Jute & Cotton Baskets, Rise of the Ancients, Moon Affirmations, Secret Past, and the three Moments in poetry books are all 50% off.

Ava Taylor also has items on sale on Smashwords!  She has Sibling Rivalry & Three Races for free.  Exploring Desires, Prospecting, Prisoner 849, Snowbound, Her Captain and Courtesan are all 25% off.

I’ve been trying to stay off social media because again – needed a break but with this sale, I need to be posting at least once a day about it.  Even during the holidays, I don’t stop working because it’s important I keep engaging people.

I went to my family Christmas.  While there, I delivered items to people.  I also got orders for more stuff.  The good thing about this – I’m going to Joann’s over the weekend.  I’m really looking forward to shopping with my niece.  It will be a nice outing for the two of us.  I hope I can find the colors of the items I want.  Joann’s has a sale going on for which I’ve gotten a flyer which I’ll be taking with me.  The fabulous thing – I have two gift cards for $125 so none of what I buy I’ll be paying for!  I get to feed my obsession without paying for my obsession.

Our immediate family is doing Christmas on Saturday!  We normally do ours early and I’m not sure I like the late thing but the girls are all going to be together.  I think it will be good.  We’ll video chat.  There are several things I want to see the girls open and hope they like.

Until then, I have a long to do list… too long to list here.

First of Eleven

Last night we went car shopping with our middle daughter.  Now we’re waiting to hear from the dealership.  In the meanwhile, grocery shopping, breakfast, and other errands have been done by Ken and Vicki. While I worked on the computer.  I got blog tours posted, checkbook caught up and email dealt with.

There’s a dozen other things which need to get done today so it’s going to be busy day.  We’ll be going to a variety of stores and finish up the errands.

I have four projects I need to take pictures of so I can work on publishing.  I also need to look over the other crochet items I’ve been waiting to distribute until I got a yeah or nay from the publisher.  We’re passed the issue they were made for so it’s time to publish and distribute.

By the end of tomorrow I hope to have all the crochet stuff photographed and measured.  I still need to make one crochet item before Tuesday.  I’ll be working on that over the next couple days.

Other than that I have a ton of writing things I want to get done.  I finished the first round of edits on Wild Magic 2 but it needs at least one more big edit before I can work on fine tuning it.  I feel like I need to add in a few scenes which will help the relationships develop and the story to flow better.

I’ve got a third of a short story edited.  This is the mangled one – poor little story – and I need to get the rest of it edited.  I had a friend edit it professionally because it was so mangled and I’d looked at it too much.  Now I’d like to finish it off.  Everyone keeps telling me it needs to be a book – I’m resistant but did add several paragraphs to the first third of the book so I’ll see how that goes.

Aside from that, I’ve got crochet patterns to publish.  I have a long list of writing projects I am in the middle of so want to work on those.  I never know until I sit down to work which one will get my attention.

New Crochet Patterns!

There are six new crochet patterns available on Amazon and Smashwords.  They will be available more places in a couple of days.  These have been done patterns but I just haven’t had time to go through all the steps for publishing.  I hope you like them.  

Thread Bookmarks
Need a small gift? Looking for items to make for a craft fair? Try these eight easy bookmarks. Made with crochet cotton, they work up quick allowing you to build inventory.
Amazon
Smashwords

Braided Scarf
For the beginner, this pattern is easy to assemble while offering a stunning end product. The chain group weaves into a braided look for this extra long scarf.
Amazon
Smashwords



Spiral Hat
Round and round you go, working two colors in tandem. This styling hat is warm and fun.
Amazon
Smashwords


Tree Hanging
Made with single crochet, this wall hanging adds a seasonal touch to any room. Use the copper (as shown) for a fall flare, or green for a summer flare. Use white or silver for a winter look and spring, simply add some small light green French knots.
Amazon
Smashwords


Triangular Doily
Light and different, this doily works up nicely to provide a beautiful decoration for any room. Worked in crochet cotton size 10, this is durable as well as decorative.
Amazon
Smashwords

Triple Triangle Afghan
Worked with triple crochets, this works up in under twelve hours.  The pattern is easy for the beginner and makes a beautiful blanket for your home or as a gift.
​Amazon
Smashwords