Ear Candy

I’ve been trying to make more pieces for my Etsy shop in preparation for the holidays, and also because I’ve accumulated quite the supply stash that need to be converted to merchandise for sale. I must say I’ve been enjoying the creative streak and have started to experiment with new designs. So forget the long nights and the actual posting process (taking photos, editing, measuring and taking dimensions, pricing and then completing all the required info before hitting “publish”) — I’m on a roll!

I know that the lack of activity in the shop has been largely due to my own inactivity. An online business in any forum takes a lot of effort. Your social media presence has to be constant.

I’ve noticed a trend towards chunky earrings and I have had this series of porcelain beads I have been meaning to work on.

Available in my Etsy Store: Gothamchick.etsy.com

Below are just some of the other designs I’ve pulled together with an emphasis towards producing a single dangle design. Where as before, I would normally connect the gemstones as separate dangles for more movement, these pieces are chunkier and more “solid”. I’m still doing that but have produced a series of earrings like below.

Available at the shop: gothamchick.etsy.com

Both pairs used agate wavy ovals which were surprisingly light because of their thinness –paired with turquoise magnesite coin beads on the left, and onyx beads on the right.

It’s always a marvel when I see the difference between my pieces from way back when I started making jewelry for sale, and the ones I work on now. It shows me how my own style has evolved.

This really all began as a means for me to find an outlet of relaxation, then a means to make my own pieces and subsidize it. Some have egged me to do more in terms of selling in other channels, but this one store is already taking up a lot of my time and effort. I’m quite happy with it. In the long run, I think that’s what matters. I do it at the pace I can manage without the stress.

More items coming.. and free shipping for the holidays.. est h out for that.

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Trying to get back to craft blogging

I haven’t really stopped crafting — I just haven’t been “here”.  So today I discovered (to my horror), that I haven’t posted since April.

Sad.

I know that I haven’t been able to devote as much time to crafting the last couple of months, but I never stopped.  The slow down was mostly vacation and family visiting and then vacation again.  Plus of course, there’s the daily distraction of work.  And motherhood.  And just life.

So what have I been up to?

FabricI’m still trying to sew.  I now have quite a fabric stash and have all these plans and patterns.  I’ve even taken to altering patterns and creating mock ups to ensure that they actually work on me.  Hopefully, the upcoming projects will help me to keep a sewing novice journal here.

I have immensely enjoyed learning.  (Thank you, YouTube!)  There are so many great teachers who so generously share their knowledge and skills in videos that can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour long.  And I have watched and watched.. when something stumps me, I google the topic and find myself watching the experts do it.

I have made Mood Sewciety an almost daily habit not just for the inspiration but for free patterns, and all those sewing tips and lectures.  One day soon, I’ll write about how Mood Fabrics here in Manhattan is my kind of sewing heaven — whether I need to do a quick drop in or when I spend an hour or so browsing and thinking and resisting the urge to splurge.

I have been working on keeping the shop going, and although I haven’t posted anything new in a while, I’ve noticed quite a bit of traffic with items or the shop being favorited by shoppers.  (I must be doing something right.)

Still, it’s been a while since my last sale.  My recent trip to Manila saw me shying away from more supplies shopping (for the first time!) — because I have been confronted by the reality that I have way too much at home that need to be converted to something wearable.  I did succumb to the urge during my short trip to Hong Kong — but I didn’t let myself get carried away.  I am proud of my restraint! LOL

I have started working earnestly to organize my supplies again.  While sorting through my bead organizers and supply bins, I’ve had a chance to reacquaint myself with stocks I had forgotten about.  At the same time, new ideas popped into my head about how I can utilize these supplies.  No goals for now.  I just want to get started with the crafting again.  Be it beads, or polymer clay, or maybe even fabric or notion based accessories — I’m itching to get creative again.

I’m recrafting a new home.  No, I didn’t move.  But yes, I’ve been changing things up at home to make it the home I am dreaming of for Angelo and I.  It’s been slow but things are changing.  Clutter from so many years ago have been cleared — and while half of that is up in the attic (where the piles have moved), I am happy with the way my world at home is changing visually.

I am hoping to create some photo art to bring our walls to life — and imbibe a sense of family around my son and I.  I want to reupholster our dining room chairs instead of buying new ones.  (Although maybe buying a new set might seem an easier “out”, I want to give this a shot and save some money along the way.)

I haven’t quite gotten to repainting.  I think that can wait for now.

With summer almost over, I can’t wait for the cooler climes of autumn when I can work on the attic as well.  Like I tell myself, one small corner at a time.

Sometimes we just need a little push to get our projects going again.  I’m hoping this one will get things rolling here, indeed.

Sewing away

I am hooked.  Or should I say fully stitched in.

A while back, I had taken the beginner and advanced sewing class over at  Mood U which gave me the basic skills to operate a sewing machine and pull together a fabric tote and a coat.  (Yes, a coat.)

So since then, I’ve managed to collect quite a stash of fabrics (a post or two coming on that), and have been mining the web for free patterns, sewing tutorials and ideas in general. For a novice sewer like me, all this feels like a kindergartner let loose on the playground during recess. There is just so much to learn and try.

I am a novice at this and thoroughly enjoying myself. How I envy all those seasoned seamstresses who impart their sewing knowledge as experts. But sewing, like most other skills, is learnable and doable. I have my sewing machine and an openness to learn that comes in handy when I start thinking of embarking on a project.

What encourages me is the dream to come up with wardrobe that fits me well, as I am not a perfect size anything. I’m one size from the waist up, and another from the hips down. While I would normally fit into a normal size, certain cuts become iffy. And there’s always the incentive of wearing something stylish without breaking the bank.

Being crafty like I am, I know I can do well in sewing if I put my mind (and heart) into it. Like most things we have to take time to learn, it takes practice and a lot of trial and error. But I’m loving it! My seam ripper is now my best friend. The web is my classroom. I keep getting ideas on how to make those patterns work for me.

I’m finishing up my first project based on a pattern that is one among many free patterns offered online. I will get to writing about that in time. Meanwhile, I’m back and hopefully will be here more, chronicling my sewing journey.

Hello, 2018!

I always greet the new year with optimism, because it always brings in a new beginning.  In my mind, no matter how chaotic or tumultuous or completely bland the year that just ended was, there is that forever hope of things getting better, more so as we restart the clock so to speak.

So happy new year.

I’ve been ramping up my creative streak of late and can happily report that I have managed to finish a winter hat, a pair of hand warmers (only because I don’t have an existing pair of the ones I did last year!) and my embroidered scarf is almost “almost there”.

My new slouchie beanieYet another slouchy beanie.  I have spools and spools of yarn that are begging to be knitted or crocheted, and in the midst of tidying up, I actually came across a few skeins of pompom yarn that I had meant to work with as an embellishment to a white or black slouchy beanie.  Even if it took forever and a day to decide between using black or white for the actual beanie, the process of actually crocheting the hat was rather easy because I worked with an existing pattern.  Then there was the actual figuring out of (1) how to incorporate the pompoms, and (2) the placement between stitches — or how close or far I would put them together.  But voila!

New hand warmersPink hand warmers.  When fall came, I actually couldn’t remember where I put my leather gloves.  I did find my hand warmers, but only one of each pair.  I could pretend I was being funky and wear a different pink on the left and another on the right.  Besides, does anyone really pay attention?  (Yes, they do.  I know because I do.)  And again, maybe because of last year’s practice but I nailed this one despite the unstitching every now and then because I was working freeform using the fan stitch.  (Not quite sure that’s what you call it.)

At first I thought 30 stitches for the actual cuff was too tight, but then again, crochet stitches actually stretch as you pull on it this way and that. It worked well enough because I meant for the warmers to reach up to just beyond my wrist, and not all the way up my arm. That’s another project maybe for another winter.

I know it’s February and I’m going to start drafting my next post the moment I hit send.. more, more, more!

Trying something new

One of my preferred ways to take a break during the day is to browse images of crafts that are currently in my line of sight . So I go to Polymer Clay Daily to see what new designs are up, browse Pinterest and occasionally find something new from the various artists I follow on Instagram.

Earlier this year, I bought scarves that were on sale for a future project. I had this idea of crocheting small pieces that I could put on the scarf as embellishment. I started crocheting and I put the little bits away, same with the scarf.

I had been browsing some gorgeous handmade crochet scarves and hand embroidered items by Sophie Digard, and I was suddenly struck by an itch to do hand embroidery. I already had the scarf, the yarn, and even the tapestry needle needed to make it work, so I thought I’d try freeform embroidery.

No sketches, no design.. I chose an initial pair of balls and a third skein. I didn’t even think about getting an embroidery hoop. I felt confident enough to fall back on my doodling repetitive designs that eventually came out to be my paper flower garden. I pulled the thread carefully and I was mindful of how the thread went this way or that at the back as well. I had to undo stitches a couple of times, but for the most part, I’ve just been going off and on and I must say I’ve been enjoying myself.

I am working both ends of a Calvin Klein wool blend scarf. I made sure it was made of hand washable fabric and I washed it before putting it away to make it craft ready for whatever it is I am going to do with it. I work the design on each end as I go, just so I don’t forget the stitch or the design I have in mind. I’m still a long way off to finishing it, but it’s been easy enough that I am actually seeing major progress.

The challenge is really thinking of the design elements, more than the actual stitching.  I’ve outgrown the tendency to stitch too tightly, and the stitches I’ve been using enable me to “correct” the tension as I move along.

Freeform Yarn Embroidery

But generally, I like how I’ve done so far, so much so that I am already thinking of the next scarf I will be embroidering.  No pressure on finishing this anytime soon as the temperatures in New York have actually gone up again.  Autumn can’t seem to make up its mind, and while we have experienced some “jacket weather”, we’re keeping it to the lighter scarves for now, so I have time.

Craft calendar revisited

The Gonzalez Christmas Card 2010
Our 2010 Christmas card featuring Angelo’s art
Back in February, I dared to put together a craft calendar in the hopes of planning my crafting year.  It was written with good intentions which I am still hoping can eventually shape the direction I take in this passion of mine.   It was a good idea to plan, and while I didn’t stick to the goals or project targets, I think it helped.

We are now entering the final quarter of the year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able do accomplish even just a quarter of the holiday-related projects I had identified.

With the month officially ending this weekend, I am trying to get going on at least two of the items below:

September

  • Start series on Holiday-themed articles.
  • Work on Christmas decor.
  • Produce holiday cards.
  • Create gifts to give for the holidays.
  • Launch second postcard set.
  • Stock up the shop and launch holiday promo.
  • PROJECT: CHRISTMAS DECOR

I have started drafting Angelo’s and my Christmas card which I am tempted to have printed, but then again, I have all the materials and tools to produce it myself, so why bother?

I am going to start tinkering with our existing Christmas decor to hopefully produce a new holiday wreath.  (Yay!)  More on a separate post..

And yes, I will start creating new pieces both for the shop on Etsy and for my gift list.

With that said, I think I can move on to October.

October

  • Finish holiday card. (MUST be done before the month ends.)
  • Start series on handmade gifts for the holidays. (DIY projects for posting here!)
  • Put up my Christmas tree last week of October.  (Will start cleaning up this week to make room!)
  • PROJECT: Holiday Cards

And for the rest of the year, I hope I can stick to this schedule:

November

  • Mail out holiday cards.
  • Decorate tree first week, deck out the house.
  • PROJECT: Wrappers / Bags for the holiday gifts

December

  • Create and make gift packaging. (Wrapper, embellishments, tags)
  • Thank you cards
  • PROJECT: Recycling holiday wrap and cards

 I treat my lists as guidelines or guideposts.  They are never hard deadlines that cause undue stress.  Crafting, after all, is a diversion and not the be-all and emd-all of my existence.  I like that the list has reminded me that while we are still months to December, it’s about time I start thinking about my holiday card.  

As for the projects and tasks I missed, then there’s the option to roll them over to the following year or finish them before this one ends.  2017, after all, has not yet ended.

Getting organized

Getting organized: headpinsI came back from Sydney midnight Saturday, so this weekend is my first full weekend home.  I jumped back into work the Monday after and tried my best to cope with the jetlag, surviving it by sheer will and a judicious use of caffeine.  Not too much, not too little.  

Despite the stopover in Manila before and after Sydney, I didn’t bring a ton of supplies back — just three bags of headpins I had requested my sister-in-law to grab for me last minute, because I didn’t really have time to do any shopping.  

Friday night, I psyched myself up that I would just stay home this weekend and allow my body to rest and recover.  I stopped short of making plans to go this way and that and instead allowed myself the chance to just chill.  I decided to organize my head pins and eye pins and I am almost done with the two bins I focused on.  That was my idea of relaxing.

I am focusing on two bins knowing I have at least two more still stashed away somewhere.  I have not had the chance to really get down to organizing them until now, and I think I should’ve dealt with this sooner.  This is what happens when your supplies accumulate through the years, more so when I end up bringing new bins home each time I travel from Manila, and the stash usually stays on those bins instead of landing with like findings.

At the start, I organized them simply as they came.  I love the 1000 pin packs I get from Wellmanson’s in Quiapo (back in Manila), but the packs usually come bent and misshapen, so storing them means taking the time to actually flatten out the pin  Then there are the packs I buy from Firemountain Gems which usually come in smaller batches because they are pricier.  I stash those in a bin with their tags so I know what gauge and size the pins are.  It also makes for easier reordering when I find my stocks running low.  

This time around, I think I have enough of each to actually classify them into gold plated, silver plated, antique bronze and “others”.  (The latter being copper and gun metal.). I keep the sterling silver and vermeil tucked away with some gemstones I have and I don’t have enough of those  to collect into a bin.  Strangely, just going through the two bins has inspired new creative ideas which I will hopefully get to do soon.  And like my bead bins, I actually have a few cups of headpins of all shapes and sizes to go through.   I don’t always get to put them back where they belong when I’m working on projects, so they tend to accumulate in other spaces.

I’m getting ready to start creating again in time for the holidays.  And I’m thinking of new items not just for the shop, but also to give as gifts.  Organizing my current supplies is a step towards a more efficient production line for the coming weeks.  Before you know it, the holidays will be here again.