Lacy Lace, Take 2

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Are you ready? TWO pretties this week…

My adventures in lighter weight fibers continue. I was frustrated, because our local shops carry worsted weight and thread, but not much in between.

So the last time I made it to the “expensive” yarn store, I picked up something pretty, and light, on a whim…not really having any idea what I was getting. I read about exotic yarns–silk, mohair, bamboo, cotton blends– but who can afford it? And that, of course, is if you can FIND it! I’m afraid buying fancy yarn to “experiment” with is mostly out-of-the-question, here.

But, for once, I did! Grabbing a couple skeins off the shelf that felt marvelous and had a color scheme to die for, I arrived at the cashier and discovered it was ON SALE. This is a charmed project from the outset, I think…the picture I just KNEW the yarn was meant for, appeared in my google images…and miraculously led to an actual PATTERN…instead of another dead end of broken links.

The yarn weight is a two, and says draylon microfiber. It was a treat to work with! Deborah Norville Serenity Garden, two skeins

The patterns were free charts online, I googled “lace circle vest crochet”.

So here it is!
First, in progress:
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And finished, ta da:
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Please excuse the camera work, I am breaking in a new assistant as her sisters were away at camp last week. 🙂

I wish this one came in solids, especially cream or white…I have searched everywhere (online) for something similar, to no avail. I absolutely love it, and want to make another. I used a J hook.

In the meantime, I couldn’t wait to order yarn, so as I showed you last week:

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The weight and drape was just not satisfactory after that lovely previous yarn. This was Red Heart Fashion cotton thread #5, and almost plastic in feel, ugh. Love the pretty shimmer, but so stiff.

And I ran out, one ball short…only to find out it is discontinued, wail! Crisis moment…because it came out so much smaller than I had hoped. So I tried something new. Blocking!

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I pinned, then stretched and repinned, and again…my neighbor came over and chatted with me while I worked and it was a pleasant diversion. I had to use regular straight pins, as I couldn’t find my quilting ones with the pretty round ball heads that are so much easier on the fingers.

I looked for a good twenty minutes, but they weren’t any of the places I had left them…and around here, if I don’t make it quick, it won’t get done. So with stinging fingertips, I stretched it once more, then left it to dry.

And here is the full pic, as promised! After blocking, it is my size. 🙂

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So there we are.

Fast forward to today. We made a leeetle road trip to the expensive yarn store– again(shhh)– and found several lighter weight fibers on sale! Hooray!
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Yarn project deliciousness ahead!
Happy hooking. ♡

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Lovely, Lovely Lace

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It is all about thread over here at The Sparkly Toad!

I have had adventures with the fine stuff before, but invariably get frustrated when I can’t get my hook size to cooperate with my tension.

I had some success last week, though!

Size 5 cotton thread on clearance– with a pretty sparkle pearl strand running through, yay!– and my new 3.5mm comfort hook.
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I am back to obsessing over lacy shrugs and wraps…so attempted a circle vest. So simple…using any doily pattern, just skip stitches and chain instead to make arm holes in the desired place.

This came out a little small…need to convince one of my lovely daughters to model for pictures…

So pretty! And an idea for another type of shrug popped in my head while stitching away, hooray!

We’ll see if that turns out. 🙂 Lots of projects to work on, here!

Happy hooking!

Sweet Little Baby Flip Flops

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I have the most darling pictures for you today!

I was terribly grumpy last week when I had an entire week of vacation, and only a handful of baby shoes and a couple of pictures to show for it.

But family comes first. I knew that, I just forgot. And didn’t accomplish as much as I hoped I would, but did put the important things first. And practiced patience. Never can quite practice that enough, it seems!

And, as Dave Ramesy says, “Starting your own business is going to take twice as long and cost twice as much money as you think.”

So there you have it. I’ve spent a small fortune on yarn, but thankfully the patterns and video tutorials I have studied to hone my skill have all been free!

Crochet social media has been LIT with the following pattern, and of course I had to try. 🙂

They turned out so well I have half a dozen orders…and some darling pictures for my (someday, hopefully not-too-long-now) etsy shop.

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So cute! And the free pattern:
http://www.whistleandivy.com/2014/06/crochet-baby-flip-flop-sandals.html

First I tried several colors:

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My jumbled collection of Caron Simply Soft 🙂

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Pastels

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Fruity!

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Carrot/Chocolate

One of the nicest things about these sweet baby shoes is that they actually stay on baby feet! The second inside strap from toe to heel is so clever. But I felt the upper strap dearly needed some glam.

Darling!

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And then a friend asked for ladybugs. Ladybugs!?! With as much artistic freedom as I should like…well, THAT was irresistable!

I had something in mind…
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But it wasn’t quite right…and I didn’t want to run to the shops…surely I must have something in my enormous stash of crafty things that would suit?

My Auntie Sarah’s antique wood buttons! Square ones!

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Would they suit? I think so. The result was quite fetching, if I dare say so myself!

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Lovely. And now I must off to stitch a few more pair and finish a tiger. Happy day!

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P.S. I learned how to watermark! One step closer to my business goals…

Vacation-ish Etsy Adventures

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Hello and Happy-Post-Vacation Monday! Yes, there are mountains of laundry and small piles of clutter everywhere…I am enjoying putting our home back in order today. I do, however, have another project looming. Something I have been putting off for months, no, YEARS now…always with the excuse that “I just don’t have the time!”

If you have been with us long, you know I have a good two to three jobs, not including wife, or mother! (Which could one or both be considered full-time tasks themselves, for sure and certain.) This week, circumstances have entirely aligned themselves and I am NOT WORKING…or chauffeuring, or volunteering, studying, supervising…

Other than my four daughters and meals, my (unpaid) time is my own. It will go quickly!

My response? Dream-chasing! I despise waste, and it will not at all do to fritter away a week. So in addition to cleaning the house and having a few small (local and cheap) adventures with the girls, I will revisit something that has dangled just out of reach for too, too long: The Sparkly Toad Shop on Etsy.

My biggest obstacle? My own perfectionism.

Having managed my own home and business finances over the years, that part should be all right. But the pictures! I know that I MUST have good photos. I’ve been all over the web looking at crocheted items and there are some awful shots out there…and some perfectly gorgeous ones. Guess which I prefer to aim for?

I have been doing a little self-study and found some marvelous resources on home studio and photo shoots.

http://www.handmadeology.com/seven-tips-on-better-picture-taking-for-your-blog-and-etsy-shop/

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1.        Use the best quality camera you can afford.
2.       Use your camera’s ‘macro’ setting for close-up shots.
3.        Natural light is your best bet.
4.       Use props to accompany your items.
5.       Use a background that makes your item stand out.
6.       Take several shots from various angles.
7.       Use a photo editor to improve your images.

For more detail on each tip, be sure to check out the link above.

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As for me, I am very visual, and love this picture of how to set up the shot.

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And a second option:
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And this site…absolutely fabulous! Best information and explanations I’ve seen. Thanks, Camera Jim!
http://www.sigma-2.com/camerajim/index.htm

Love the bunny how-to illustrations:

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And then the tips for clothing…this is the information I need to capture my textile shots.
http://www.sigma-2.com/camerajim/cjgclothing.htm
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I confess, the one site I have NOT found helpful is the Etsy Q&A. These were much more informative.

So, a few supplies! Some cloth and/or paper, clamps, lamps, props and a tripod…I have most of it around the house…AND time this week to gather things together. Wish me luck!

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Now off to finish this, my first baby cocoon, as we are headed to visit a sweet new baby in a bit! It would be good to complete the gift. 😉

Until Next Week

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The Sparkly Toad will not be posting this week due to a blissful week of vacation. 🙂

We did bring along all three afghans I mentioned previously and they are done, just need to finish edging! I got a little crocheting in at the beach yesterday…

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If you are here in America, enjoy the holiday! Happy Independence Day!

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