Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Featured in a Blog!

My store, Yard By Yard Knits, has been featured in a blog! Sherri from Sherri Crochets and Crafts, writes a weekly spotlight on fellow Etsy Knitters. Sherri is one of the team's moderators, so I have to give her big props for that! The group has grown exponentially over the last couple of years, and I can't imagine keeping everyone organized! Be sure to show Sherri some love by checking out her store. She sells patterns for some adorable sock monkeys and amigurumi animals and dolls.

You can read the blog article here:

Here are some pictures of Sherri's cuties!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarah's Spotlight - Ana Diaz Arte

Although Katie from Pretty Sneaky was my first official fan on Etsy, Ana was the first person to find my store on their own and mark it a favorite. So I hold a dear place in my heart for Ana! She opened her Etsy shop around the same time I did, and I think I became her first sale when I purchased some gift boxes. Ana now has three Etsy shops, but Ana Diaz Arte is her original. Her other shops, Vellum Creations and AMarte Baby, are equally impressive and showcase the depth of talent Ana has. Her work varies from stamped gift boxes to crocheted baby items to jewelry and accessories.

When Ana's new items pop up on Facebook, I notice a lot of flowers in her work. She credits her grandmother with this interest in nature. Her grandfather used to own a jewelry store, so she was destined to make jewelry from a young age! Ana uses 100% cotton embroidery floss to make her creations. She often adds yarns, beads, or needle felted wool to embellish her items. What really impresses me is when Ana refers to crocheting with embroidery floss. I know how difficult it can be to maintain a consistent guage with fine yarn. Embroidery floss is even thinner! I've had some baby projects that just don't look quite right because the yarn is too thin - maybe it's just my talent level! :)

As with fingerless mitts/gloves, I don't necessarily understand wrist cuffs. But as I shop through Etsy, I realize how popular both items are. Ana offers a nice selection of cuffs in her shop in many colors and styles. These cuffs are one of her most popular items, and she's already sold several. I think my sense of fashion is just too basic! It's only been in the last couple of months that I've been able to wear a pair of heels for the entire day at work - and they're not really even that high!

Ana's always trying to come up with new ideas for her work. I like to follow a pattern from start to finish, so the fact that Ana creates her own designs is pretty impressive to say the least!

Be sure to visit Ana's other pages:



Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Reversible Cables!

Okay, I'll be honest - I have not yet tried out reversible cables. I put my magazine on the bookshelf for safe keeping and proceeded to forget about it! Since I am now in between projects, I might just have to give it a try. This week, I came across patterns for a scarf with reversible cables and a matching hat that has a cabled brim (reversible cables of course!) When I saw these, I realized it was time to test out these cables! These patterns look really nice, so I wanted to share!

Here are pictures of the scarf and hat:

And here are links to the free patterns:


These are known as the Palindrome Scarf and Hat because a palindrome is something that is the same forward and backward. I wonder if my new yarn will work for this scarf?? I think the pattern uses a heavier yarn than what I have coming in the mail, but it might be worth a try! Now I don't feel so guilty about buying it! :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My new favorite place to buy yarn!

When I need a specific yarn, I like to support my local yarn store, but they don't always have what I need. The next step is the internet... it's pretty amazing how many yarn stores there are online! But I have to rave about Herrschners. I'm familiar with many other online stores but hadn't come across this one until recently. Herrschners has merchandise for many different crafts. They also have some free patterns and several how-to videos.

I think their yarn selection varies widely. The yarn I originally purchased is no longer available on the website. But they offer incredible prices on their yarns - everything is marked down from their suggested retail. And on top of that, they offer weekly specials and "hot buys" for even better prices!

As much as I love fancy yarn, I tend to buy less expensive yarns. My closet is full of Lion Brand Wool-Ease at the current moment because it's been great for my holiday pillows and dog sweaters. I keep telling myself that once my store picks up and I have more sales, then I can afford the nicer yarns! I love Herrschners because you can pick up some great yarns on a hot buy! I signed up for email updates and think I need to take my name off the list because it's so tempting. I've managed so far to make only one purchase, but it's been hard not to buy more! I'm about to check out yarn measurements for a baby hoodie pattern to see if one of their sale yarns matches what I need. I already think it's too thin, so I might just pull out some more willpower and close the website!

Okay, I failed miserably at that. I did not buy the yarn for the baby sweater but did buy the yarn I saw earlier today that I absolutely love. Here's a picture:

I ordered three balls of this color and three balls of a rich purple to make some scarves. Here's what sucked me in - there were only three balls remaining of the purple. I'd hate to check back tomorrow and see that they're gone... this is the same reason why I eat so many sweets at work. I'm not known for my willpower - ask any of my coworkers. Each ball of yarn was only $2.99. That's not so bad right? I promised no new yarn until I use more of what I have in my closet. But these balls are very little and don't take up much room. And, I don't actually have any yarn in stock right now for scarves, so that makes it okay. I think that's enough excuses for now. Sigh... it's tough to be addicted to yarn!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sarah's Spotlight - Gourds By Design

There are gourds, and then there are gourds. The vases and bowls found at Gourds By Design definitely fall into the "and then there are gourds" category. I happen to like gourds quite bit and am mostly used to the soft ornamental gourds my mom put out every Halloween with our pumpkins. Then I came across Gourds By Design and found a whole new world of gourds!

The owner of this shop admits that she discovered gourds by accident. She has been a crafter and enjoys making clothes, weaving fabrics, knitting, and quilting. Then she came across a book on gourd art, and we can all see what direction she went in!

I'm definitely impressed reading about the process of gourd art. When I first came across her shop, I thought the owner is a very good painter who happens to paint on gourds. The owner gives a very good description in her profile which helps the shopper really appreciate the art. Here are the steps involved in making each gourd you see in this shop:

1) Cut the gourd to the shape you want and then sand the edges to smooth them out;
2) Remove the tough fibers from inside the gourd. This artists paints the insides of her gourds black to give it a finished look;
3) Draw a design on the outside of the gourd;
4) The pencil lines are wood burned onto the gourd;
5) Paint the gourd with three coats of archival quality ink dyes;
6) Varnish the gourd with three coats of a varnish designed to be used on gourds - this gives the gourd the glossy finish that you see. 

You can see for yourself that the end result is stunning! These gourds are meant for decorative use only. They should not be used for food or water. I love to see the variety of designs that this artist uses. A large number of her designs seem to be inspired by nature, but there are also vases and bowls with geometrical patterns on them. She even currently has one necklace with a gourd pendant! How creative!

If you buy two gourds, the second one ships for free! Be sure to take advantage of this great deal!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spotlight on Max and Izzy

Sigh... what to do... Dan had another assignment due this week which limited my computer time drastically. Then, I had evening plans out tonight which means I don't have time to write full spotlight. I love browsing through my favorites and new stores to feature one in my spotlight! As you can tell, I don't write many other, regular articles for my blog. So I hate to miss my spotlight this week, but I think my next one will wait until Monday. Instead, I spotlight once again those adorable fuzzy felines in New Orleans, Max and Izzy.

My sister was so excited that her cats are now on the web! They're famous, she says! She sent me some more pictures of them, and they happen to be sleeping on a blanket I knit for her. Kristen really wanted me to make her a blanket, and I told her if she bought the yarn, then sure I would make a blanket. Well, one weekend together in Maine visiting our family, she was ready to go yarn shopping! She settled on a nice wave pattern that uses Lion Brand Homespun - one of my favorite yarns. It can be a pain to knit with since the needles can snag on the loops, but the yarn is very forgiving when you make mistakes! We spent quite a long time at Jo-Ann Fabric matching colors to the pattern.

Her cats immediately took to it and spend many an hour sleeping on their new blanket. It's a little difficult to see the blanket, so I've also posted a picture of a scarf I made with the remaining yarn. It's just a narrower version of the same pattern. Okay, I really am spotlighting the cats and not my knitting, but I need a little ego trip after a long day at work! :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thanks Lori!

I have to give a big thanks to Lori from Lori's Place. She was so touched by my recent spotlight that she sent me a few cookies as a thank you. I can't believe how quickly my cookies showed up, but last night, I had four shortbread cookies waiting in my mailbox - all beautifully packaged of course! You can definitely taste the Caribbean kick that she adds to them. These shortbread cookies are delicious - and they look even nicer in person. I still can't believe that Lori hand decorates each cookie! Such great work!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sarah's Spotlight - Lori's Place

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I grew up with Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms for breakfast, and ice cream was always available for dessert. While marshmallows in my cereal no longer hold quite the same appeal as they once did, sweets, candy, and chocolate still rank high on my list of preferred foods! When I signed onto Etsy yesterday, I saw some adorable wedding dress shortbread cookies on the front page. Being in wedding mode, I thought these were worth a closer look. And then I entered Lori's Place - a dream come true for me!

Lori has been baking as a child and has certainly perfected the craft. Her resume includes several fine bakeries and pastry shops in Michigan and Head Pastry Chef for the Florida Panthers hockey team! Now that's impressive to have on your resume! Lori was even named the top Stadium Pastry Chef in South Florida in 2002. She credits Executive Chef Jon Perrault for helping her perfect her skills.

Lori joined the Etsy community in late 2008 and has been quite successful! I'm still working toward sale #8, and Lori is approaching 650! That must say something about the quality of her cookies. I've yet to try any myself, but her cookies look outstanding! Her flower garden cookies are my hands down favorite. The colors she uses  are so vibrant and rich, and the quality of her icing is amazing! I would never guess each cookie is hand decorated because they are done so well.

What also impresses me about Lori's Place is the selection of cookies! She offers such a large variety of shapes. I had a hard time leaving her store because each picture I came across looked better than the last! Lori also offers brownies, bars, and other non-shortbread cookies which also look quite tasty. Lori uses "extracts" which come from the Carribean for added flavor. Additionally, there are no preservatives in her baking.

I'm sure I've made everyone hungry now, so happy shopping!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cat Booties!!

You may recall that my sister requested knit cat booties a short while ago. What a project that was! My feline friend hated these booties, so they did not fare well in test runs with Pheoda. My sister has told me on several occasions that her cats, Izzy and Max, do indeed enjoy their booties. They tend to prefer them when resting and will shake them off once they start moving around. But, Izzy and Max will wear their booties for extended lengths of time when napping and lounging around - I still barely believe it even with these pictures! Maybe I should start promoting these in my store!



Friday, March 5, 2010

Can anyone find me a 25th hour in a day so I can knit?

Who knew wedding planning could be so time consuming? I suppose I should have known better. I originally wanted a wedding with immediate family only. My finance and I are not planning a long engagement, so this seemed do-able. But then one night he informed me that if we're not going to city hall to get married, then he will be inviting some extended relatives and two friends. We've managed to keep it quite small, but suddenly I had a wedding to plan! Yikes!

However, I shouldn't complain. Within 5 weeks, I have a date, place, caterer, dress, bridesmaid dresses, justice of the peace, and am mostly set with a photographer. The caterer is impossible to get a hold of, but I do feel confident that I will have some food at my wedding! The best part is most things have fallen into my lap at really good deals, so we're doing really well!

Anyone who lives near Waltham, Massachusetts should be sure to check out Gore Place. This is where Dan and I will have our ceremony and reception. It's a great historic mansion dating back to the early 1800s. We originally were looking at their carriage house but learned we can use the mansion instead because our party is so small! How can you pass that up? I passed up the beautiful Italian Garden at another estate for the mansion. It was not a tough choice. The mansion offers great educational programs throughout the year and weekend tours. I love showing the place off, so here are some pictures:

They have an annual Sheep Shearing Festival, hence the photo of the sheep. I wanted to go last year but wasn't able to make it. Maybe this year. I just saw that they have crafters at the festival! I don't think I can have enough knit goods ready to go in one month, but I'll definitely keep this in mind for next year. What a great place to see some dog sweaters! It may not be quite the right time of year for scarves though.

But wedding planning makes it tough to work on my knitting! I had to research photographers this week and justices of the peace last week. This upcoming week is florists. And some time before April, I need to make all my birthday cards for the next year. I have a great break in birthdays in February and March, so I stamp all my cards at one. It can take a few days, and April is quickly approaching! But after researching and emailing different contacts, then come the phone calls - so much for my simple wedding. I can still proudly boast that, with the exception of catering, we are doing extremely well in the low-budget category.

My goal tonight was to knit, knit, knit away. Here it is almost 8:00, and I still haven't glanced in the direction of my knitting bag! Except for this blog, there was no wedding things to do tonight. Instead I got to talk to Verizon for the 100th time about my internet signal. I'm very proud that I managed not to yell at anyone tonight. All recent conversations end up with lots of yelling and a blood pressure that is probably off the charts!

But enough talk. Time to put away the leftovers, sit down, and pull out that knitting! I think I can hear it calling my name...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sarah's Spotlight - Pretty Sneaky

I decided I should pay homage to my knitting guru and friend who first encouraged me to join the Etsy community! Katie of Pretty Sneaky taught me to knit on several winter breaks from college, but I never made more than a little swatch. I'm consider myself lucky that she moved back to Maine soon after another friend taught me to knit again. I still remember calling Katie with endless questions, but having an expert knitter across town encouraged me to pick up more challenging projects, since I knew she could help me out. I had quite an adventure driving all around town to various yarn stores to figure out a pattern because Katie was on vacation!

Last spring I received an email from Katie saying she had just opened a shop on Etsy. She gave me that final push to open my own shop a couple months later. She was then promoted from being my knitting guru to my etsy/facebook/paypal guru! Come visit her shop at:

Katie had told me about her knitted shoes last Christmas, but I couldn't quite picture the finished product. I was truly impressed when I first stopped by her store. Her custom-knit shoes are creative and unique. In her profile, she writes that socks have always been one of her favorite items to knit, so shoes were a natural progression. I have to say that I have only made one pair of socks when I took a class and have never made another pair! 

I'm definitely impressed by people who design their own patterns especially for such a unique item as a shoe. And I also have to love that photos of her shoes showcase beautiful Maine. Since I moved to suburban Boston a couple years ago, tastes of home are always welcome!

Katie welcomes custom orders, and I know she's always welcome to a challenge! She's a proud member of Etsy Maine Team. Her facebook page is: