Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sarah's Spotlight - The House of Mouse

No one wants a mouse in their house unless it's one of these adorable creations by The House of Mouse! You can visit this shop at:

Each mouse is individually made by Anna. She offers a large selection of mice, ranging from professional mice to celebrity mice to movie character mice (notably Star Wars and Lord of the Rings). I never thought I would want to come home to a houseful of mice, but these cuties would cheer me up after a long day at work!

Anna was born in England but has been living in the Netherlands for the last 6 years. Before opening her Etsy shop, she was a professional oil painter. What started as Christmas gifts for her family in 2007 has turned into a full time profession! Anna adds at least one new mouse to her store every week. If only I could be that consistent with my knitting! In addition to her mice, Anna also creates pins, magnets, and note cards that feature these adorable critters.

Here is a picture of Anna working in her studio:
I'm more than impressed with the shelves of mice behind her. As a knitter, my studio tends to be my couch or the bed, so it's nice to have the opportunity to see other artists in their more formal studios. Ten percent of Anna's profits go to the British animal welfare charity, The Blue Cross, where she adopted her cat, Nicki. The agency's website is Nicki is not allowed into Anna's studio, so customers don't have to worry about allergies.

Anna is very happily expecting her first child in February and will be closing her shop for a few months to adjust to mommihood. Be sure to stop by her store in the next month to check out all her mice! Congratulations on your son, Anna!

Anna is a member of the following Etsy teams:
Founder of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Team
Proud member of the European Street Team
and Etsy for Animals

 Anna's other websites include:
Full catalog of mice:
Deviant Art Page: http://www.the-house-of-mouse/

Anna also writes a blog featuring handmade cuteness by other artists:

Anna was also featured in an Etsy blog this past January, which is very exciting! You can read the article at:

All photographs used with Anna's permission. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

After Christmas Sale!

All scarves in my shop are 10% off now through 9am (EST) on January 4, 2010. I have several fashion scarves for shoppers who live in warmer climates. Here are just a few pictures of all the great scarves I have to offer! Be sure to check out the full selection at my store. Several scarves can be ordered in different colors, so be sure to read each description for details! Thanks for shopping! 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sarah's Spotlight - Azure Dandelion

Growing up, my mom kept a country feel to our home. Perhaps that's why I immediately found Azure Dandelion's art so appealing. You can visit this shop at:

Many Etsy shops are run by individuals, but Azure Dandelions is a family affair. The Rain family creates a large variety of art, including small household items, furniture, bird houses, and wall art. When you visit their website, you also learn that the family makes health and beauty products as well! I'm more than impressed with the amount of talent in one family!

In the knitting world, I'm learning more about natural fibers, such as eco-wool and organic cotton. The Rain family uses many recycled and/or reclaimed items in their art work. What might look like a scrap piece of wood to us becomes the background for a beautiful painting to the Rains. This combination of painted nature scenes on recycled nature products is so intriguing! It really adds to the country, primitive folk feel of their artwork.

I'm really drawn to the floral artwork but also get lost looking through the animal paintings they offer as well. The family uses such great combinations of colors with their designs. The art is vibrant yet subtle, bold and tame all at once. I first fell in love with the daisy door topper I picture here:

I had high hopes of moving into a bigger apartment that needed more artwork. Although, while I type away facing the red curtain over my door, I can picture it sitting nicely on top, matching the flowers on my bedspread. Hmm.... maybe I'll have to see if any Christmas money comes my way. There's no way I could pick just one item though! I've never considered myself a country decorator, but the Rain family might just convert me with their lovely artwork! Be sure to stop by and check it out for yourself!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blocking questions answered

Blocking has always been one of my least favorite parts of knitting. Except for one 100% wool scarf, I've had limited success with blocking. So, I was really excited when a fellow member of Team Etsy Knitters sent us a link on blocking many different fabrics! I have some really fun scarves listed in my shop, but the edges roll in - I hate it! I've washed and pinned them down. I ironed them under a towel. I decided it was a lost cause for these scarves, but then I learned about this method of "killing" the acrylic. I can't wait to give it a try to see how well it works. I did want to share this information with other knitters who may have the same anti-blocking attitude that I do from past failures!

This was originally posted online in November 2006. Happy reading, and happy blocking!

Lesson: Blocking Lace

Everyone wants to know how to block lace, as if it's some deep, dark secret or incredibly difficult like rocket science. Actually, it's quite easy. If you've never blocked lace before, you can try this on a swatch if you're a little nervous.

Blocking Wool or Other Natural Fibers

You need:
Blocking wires and/or rust proof pins. I use both, depending on the project and my mood. You need hundreds of pins if you are using them exclusively. You need about ten or so if you are using them to secure blocking wires in place.
A blocking board or flat surface with straight lines. I use a cutting board made for sewing. It is cardboard, folds up neatly for storage, and has a 1" grid printed on it, making it easy to get straight edges.
To block a lace scarf or shawl:
1) Soak the finished item in tepid water until it is thoroughly wet. This could take a half-hour or more, so be patient. When you first put the item in the water, you'll notice that it floats. That's because so much air is trapped inside the fibers. When it gets saturated, it will sink below the surface of the water and become a darker color.
2) Place the item on the blocking surface, and stretch it into shape. Use the pins to secure the knitting in place, or put the blocking wires in the edges and use the pins to secure the wires in place.
  • If you're using pins, start by pinning the corners, then place pins at the center of each side. Then, keep dividing each section in half and adding more pins until the edge is straight and even.
  • If you're using blocking wires, run the wires through the stitches at the very edge of the piece.
  • If your item has a scalloped edge, secure each point with the pins or wires. If your item has a straight edge, you need to pin or run the wires through almost every other row. Basically, you need to secure the item in enough places so the edge is smooth and straight, instead of jagged and sloppy looking.
3) Leave the item to dry thoroughly--overnight in dry areas and for at least 24 hours in wet climates. Even though it might seem like it dries faster, leaving it for a longer amount of time ensures that it is completely dry and helps to set the block so the item won't shrink up after you unpin it.
Here's a picture of a scarf being blocked by the Oomingmak knitters in Alaska. You can see that it has been stretched a good deal to open up the lace pattern and to help the fabric drape softly. You can also see how many pins it takes to make a straight edge!

blocking lace

Blocking Acrylic

You need:
Blocking wires and/or rust proof pins, a cotton dish towel or a piece of cotton fabric, and an iron.
In Arctic Lace, I mentioned that you can't knit lace with acrylic yarns because they won't keep their shape when blocked. This is true if you follow the procedure above.
However, when I went to the Boise Lace Knitting retreat a couple of months ago, one of the other attendees, Pat Stevens, proved me wrong. Here's her technique for "killing" acrylic yarn to give it a gorgeous drape.
Wet your knitting, spin it out in a washer. Lay a sheet on the carpet. Pin the piece exactly the size you want. (I stretch my lace shoulder warmers pretty hard.) Lay a wet cotton dish towel or piece of fabric over it. With a hot iron press down all over the thing. Don't iron just press. I press until the top cloth is very dry. Then I leave it overnight to finish drying. It's that easy. I really press it a lot, it's the steam heat that makes the acrylic look and drape like rayon. You may want to knit a large swatch and test it out.
Edited to add this note in response to a question a reader sent me in email: Acrylic yarn gets "killed" by the application of the heat and it will remain dead after future washings and retain its new shape. You should only have to do this treatment once, as far as I can tell, whereas you normally have to reblock lace knitted in wool or other natural fibers after each washing.
Here's another tip that just arrived in my email from Renee' Wells, whom I also met at the Boise Lace Knitting Retreat (Renee' teaches some great classes on Japanese knitting and if you ever have a chance to take one of them, don't miss it!):
This can also be done dry. Sometimes I place the item on a towel with a wet cloth above. Press and then gently stretch the item into the new shape. You can pick up the cloth between wettings and see where more pressing is needed to even it out. The advantage to this method is greater stretch. You must be careful not to let the item hang over the ironing board it you are trying it there. The weight will skew the shape. I often kill acrylic baby blankets, they morph into lovely exotic feeling fibers! No longer just acrylic! And the mums that receive them use them over and over because they do hold their new drape.

Blocking Fitted Garments

To block lace for a garment, pin the pieces out to the specified dimensions. Do not stretch or pin ribbing, or it will loose its elasticity.
Posted by Donna at 6:54 AM
Edited on: Monday, November 27, 2006 10:22 AM
Categories: Knitting Lessons

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Crafter's Dilemma

How many crafters and artisans run into this problem: what project do I start next? I stocked up on yarn over Thanksgiving when I found some great sales. So now I keep asking myself, which yarn do I use next? I worked on a small project this week that took much longer than I thought it would to finish. While that frustrated me a bit, it did give me more time to make a decision: baby sweater or dog sweater? I have a great pattern for a striped baby cardigan that I have made before. I was pleasantly surprised by how far the yarn went, as I was able to make three cardigans. I wasn't as impressed though with the colors once it was put together. Although the sweater is designed to fit babies 0-9 months, these colors were a little more "baby" than I wanted. The pattern shows it in great shades of green and purple, making it look really sophisticated. So I purchased some yarn in shades of red and green (but not Christmas-y!) that will look great! But I have oh so much yarn for dog sweaters that is taking up room in my closet. Sigh...

So after much thought tonight, I decided to make another dog sweater since I only have two pet items listed in my shop and many more baby items (although only one baby sweater). I think it might have been a sign when I realized I don't have size 9 double pointed needles needed for the pattern. However, when I look in my knitting bag, there is another dog pattern and yarn ready to go. How did that happen? I am just too tempted to try all of these new patterns I have! Who knew it would be this difficult just to start a new project? I don't usually have so many options all at once!

Can't wait to see the finished product! I also can't wait to see when this baby sweater finally gets made! We're bracing for a potential big snow storm on Sunday, so I might be able to make one dog sweater and start the cardigan all in the same weekend. That does hold some appeal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sarah's Spotlight - Whiskerkisses

So, anyone who has read through my blog knows how I am repeatedly tempted to test out my dog sweaters on poor Pheoda. I still think she would look quite adorable, but I know how mad I would be if a claw got stuck in the yarn! (Yes, that's the only reason this project hasn't yet taken place!) Anyhow, you can imagine how excited I was to stumble across Whiskerkisses, a great store on Etsy that sells accessories for pet collars.
Etsy shop:
Facebook page:

Here you will find boa collars, neck ties, button down collars, and much more. I would still be quite impressed with these products if it were a dog doing the modeling. However, the model (and quality control officer no less) is an adorable cat named Twiggy. I am curious to find out how Twiggy appears to sit so still for her photo shoots, but she seems to do a great job! And her blue eyes are gorgeous - it must be the Siamese in her coming out!

The best part about this store is the artist's dedication to animals. She is a member of Etsy for Animals, and 10% of all sales from the store go to helping animals in need. You can visit this team at: or
The artist also created a special bandanna for Twiggy's third birthday earlier this summer. 100% of the proceeds from these bandannas go to the Animal Welfare Society of Southeastern Michigan No Kill Shelter. Sweet Pheoda still wears her red tie bandanna, but I'm not sure I could keep a collar on her. Otherwise, I would have already purchased one of these "Got Treats" bandannas for her. I think my sister's cats need to wear tags, so they may be getting new gifts soon from their auntie!

It's truly amazing to see someone so dedicated to both her craft, her kitty, and other animals who don't have such loving owners to call home. You'll be glad you decided to stop by her store!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweet Sadie

Last weekend, I turned on my computer to find that I had sold my first dog sweater! The adorable red and white ribbed sweater that I featured a couple weeks ago here had a new owner! I was communicating with another Etsy seller (Threads in the Bed) a while ago about not often seeing our treasures after they are shipped. So, you can imagine how excited I was to get a picture of Sadie wearing her new dog sweater! She is certainly super adorable, and her owner/mother gave me permission to share the picture. How sweet is this?

I also happily purchased a stuffed animal this morning to help photograph my other dog sweaters. When my boyfriend showed a great amount of interest in putting the sweater on the cat, I realized that I quickly needed an alternative. I'm not sure if I can get the bow off the left ear, but it's a start at least!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If I Only Had Some Legs

I would prance around the house
Showing off my hoodie
Having so much fun

Oh, the trouble I could cause
On all four of my paws
If I only had some legs!

Here is a preview of my newest dog sweater! All that's remaining is to attach two little legs. Now I have to figure out how to model this thing for some pictures! Without a dog, it's definitely difficult to do. That fuzzy feline of mine looks so tempting for photo ops. If I only thought she would sit still... The magazines stuffing it now don't really work since it makes this great sweater looks a bit like a sausage. I'll add figuring this out to my to do list this weekend. Unfortunately, my list already includes writing up my holiday cards, knitting two scarves, buying yarn for said scarves, decorating a Christmas tree, and I think going to a museum. I'm just not quite sure that I can get it all done! I may have to ask the cat to either sit still or get me a small stuffed dog for Christmas!

I can't wait to see the finished product. Hopefully, it will be for sale by the end of the weekend or early next week!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sarah's Spotlight - Aaron Sober Ceramics

I grew up in Brunswick, Maine and was searching through local sellers with my mom when I was at home for Thanksgiving. I came across Aaron Sober's store and was instantly impressed with and intrigued by his work. You can visit his store at:

Aaron describes his work as "durable and masculine, but also not without grace." He compares his art to a worn in pair of jeans, something that can be comfortably, reliably, and affectionately used over and over again. Aaron decorates his bowls, cups, vases, and mugs with scenes from nature. These scenes add to that touch of masculine grace described above. The artwork is sturdy yet graceful, active yet peaceful.

All of Aaron's items are food, microwave, and dishwasher safe. They are crafted to be used and to last. Be sure to stop by his store to check out his other great work! How can you not be impressed?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrating Etsy Knitters!

I am a happy member of the Etsy Knitters Team. It's so much fun to connect with other knitters. It's also been great having a place to go with questions about Etsy or even just selling items. There are many seasoned pros in the group!! You can check out all our hard work in several places:

*Yahoo Group:
*Street Team:
*Flickr Group:
*Ravelry Group:
*Facebook Group:
*"EtsyKnitters Team" Tag Search on Etsy:

The group recently put together a fun game to get into the holiday spirit! Be sure to check out the items that complete the following phrase, as well as all the other great Etsy Knitters! Not sure why some links turned out blue when I made them all red, but oh well. Happy shopping! 

S ... is for SIREN 
A ... is for Autumn Wool Dog Sweater
N ... is for 
Not a Pink or Blue Baby Set
T ... is for 
A ... is for 
Alpha Hat

I ... is for 
Island Sea Blue Felted Wool Wristlet
S ... is for 
Sigmund the Sea Monster

C for
Cute Horse
O for
Olive green purses
M for 
Mustard Fingerless Gloves
I ... is for I
tty bitting stocking ornament
N ... is for 
Nothin But Fringe Scarf
G ... is for 
Green Scarf 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sarah's Spotlight - Vilt A LaKim

I've decided to take a break from talking about myself! I plan to offer my Spotlight feature on a regular basis, hopefully weekly, to showcase all the great artists on Etsy! It's truly amazing to see all the different types of artwork and creativity produced by artisans and crafters worldwide!

My first spotlight freatures Vilt A La Kim.
You can visit Kim's shop at: Kim uses the wet felt technique to make her items. She provides a great overview of the this technique and also offers a website for those who wish to learn more about it:

As a knitter, I am familiar with felting wool and presumed Kim meant this technique when she referred to wet felting. I was fascinated to learn about the wet felting process and realized how different it is than the felting process with which I am familiar. Kim says it can take 3-4 hours to fully felt an object! That's dedication!

I first stumbled upon Kim's shop when looking for items for a treasury. I instantly fell in love with all the great items she has to offer. Of course, I had to add her to my favorites, and I was surprised to hear back from her saying I was her 400th fan! She sent me a surprise as a thank you. Today I received felted soap. I was a little dubious at first, but Kim had attached a note saying to use it just like real soap. My little felted soap produced some great suds, and my hands are nice and clean typing up this blog! Needless to say, I was certainly impressed - by both receiving a thank you and by the felted soap itself!

The pictures posted here are only a small sample of Kim's lovely artwork. She has given a link to her Flickr page in her profile:

Be sure to stop by Vilt A La Kim to check our this great store!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Finished Product!

Finally! My first dog sweater is for sale in my shop. You can visit my store at: Can't you just imagine a little pooch walking around with a touch of sparkle? I didn't plan a holiday sweater, but this is just perfect for the season! This was my least favorite dog sweater of the patterns I have because the picture in the pattern isn't that great. But the finished product is adorable!

It was tempting to try it out for size on poor Pheoda. Given that she's been a little under the weather, it seemed unusually cruel to ask that of her, much less ask her to pose for pictures for my Etsy page! But how cute would that be? That little black part of my soul still wants to give it a try. That darn cat never scratches nor bites, so there is a fair chance of success. I can feel her shooting me mean glances just at the thought of this. Plus, what dog would want to wear a sweater once donned by a cat though?

Here are some pictures of the sweater - I love showing it off because it's so adorable! It really might be one of my favorite items I have knit thus far! And I'm almost finished with dog sweater #2 with a custom order already in for my aunt's dog, Sally. Finally, some real measurements instead of guessing! I suppose if I'm going to have a new obsession, knit dog sweaters isn't too bad a choice!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm such a knitting addict!

What to do on a day off from work? Enjoy day-before-Thanksgiving sales to buy more yarn! That's in addition to the yarn I ordered online last week for some new baby sweaters. And I keep complaining that there's no room in my closet for any more yarn. I know have 15 new skeins and three more on the way! To be fair, three skeins are for a requested baby blanket, but the others are poor impulse control when the sign says sale!! Oh help!

To help everyone prepare for the holiday season, I am offering free shipping in my store beginning Friday, 11/27 through 8:00am (eastern time) on Tuesday, 12/1. Be sure to take advantage of this great sale at

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

Or should I say, how many tries does it take to get past row 10 of a new pattern! Don't you love those patterns that just work so easily? And then there are the ones that don't... After starting a new dog sweater (no measurements needed, yea!!) my ribbing was not working. Something so simple caused such headaches! Sigh... knit, unravel, knit, unravel.... how tiring! I think I'm currently on attempt #8, although I lost count after 4 or 5. I feel like I could be done the project in the time it's taken me to finally get going on it! I'm quite happy now with the way it looks and can't wait to see the finished product.

On my trip to Petco this morning to get some measurements for my other sweater, I did see an adorable snowflake capelet for cats. How tempting for little Pheoda, but I think her bandana will have to suffice. Once her fur grows back, she needs nothing else to keep her warm, as evidenced by her "before" picture! But back to the dogs... Happily, I noticed no strange looks in my direction as I pulled out my ruler and pen to take my measurements. We'll see how helpful they are once this current sweater is done. Too many patterns to try, and only so much time in the day to knit! If only my paying job didn't take up so much time!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's a doggone world

As I mentioned last time, I really want to enter the world of dog sweaters. I very stupidly started a pattern last week that I thought I had read through completely. You just know this isn't going to end well...

I was very happily knitting, so impressed with myself because I love this sweater! Then my pattern directed me "to work in the established pattern until the piece measures 1" less than the length of your dog from neck to tail." Later I was directed to measure around the belly to add a belt and fit around the neck. Hmm... how will my dear feline friend help me with that? I must admit that little Pheoda does wear (and tolerate!) a bandana at times, especially after her semi-annual shavings. Doesn't help here.

My weekend may consist of shopping around the Petco while secretly (or not so secretly) measuring their dog sweaters! I'm also open to measurements if anyone has already measured a dog so I have some guidelines to get started. Who knew this would be so difficult? :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where to start?

Welcome! I can talk about knitting all day long, but where to start? I love to knit and am really excited about my Etsy online shop, Yard By Yard Knits ( I just participated in my first craft fair last week and am hoping to do more in the spring or summer.

What inspires me? Textures, colors, shapes, intricate patterns. If you visit my shop, you will notice that I use a many different yarns and lean towards soft, textured yarns. Perhaps it's my wool allergy. While I can knit with wool, I still have memories (nightmares?) of hives breaking out on my face after laying on a wool rug many years ago!

What do I like to knit? Just about anything! I love making things for other people and have only kept one scarf for myself! Baby items are probably my favorite. I've realized recently that I really love sophisticated, vintage-style baby clothes and have a ton of sweater patterns on my list to try.

I'm also starting to work on some dog sweaters! I am 100% a cat person, but my kitty keeps herself fairly toasty without needing a sweater - and these dog sweaters are too cute to pass up. Unfortunately, my cat doesn't provide me with good measurements for my dog sweaters, so it's a little slower going than I had hoped.

So many things to try and only so much time in the day to knit! It's quite the addiction I have to admit! I think other knitters will agree!