My Etsy Shop is Open for Business

Between, crafting, teaching, blogging, work and now owning a shop, I hope I can juggle everything gracefully.

Before I tell you the great exciting news, a lesson to learn:

A Life Lesson for Opening a Business
My shop has been opened for a month or two, and considering the inventory it had, I got an OK viewing audience. But with no sales, and little interest (and a similar real life situation currently happening) I realized a slow, gradual opening is never the way to go.

They say “Start Small”, but they’re talking in the grander scheme of things. So, whether you’re opening a Pizzeria or a cyberstore, THINK BIG!

As my dad always says, “No Pain, No Gain”, so I’ve stocked up and scheduled a grand opening SALE!!! That’s right! A TWO-WEEK event starting April 2, 2013: all shoppers will receive 20% OFF every item!

My shop’s name is Mellow With a Punch. I had asked my friend Trevor how he would describe me and that’s what he came up with. Not only does that phrase fit me like a glove, but it’s the personality in my work as well.

My shop features ceramic objects, and paper goods including artist books, prints and hand-bound journals!   Click the photos to below to be linked to the item in my store!

ceramic houses

book of stairs journal

teacups etching
Whether you need a little something to brighten your day, or a gift for a friend, my shop has just what you need!

Happy Shopping!!!

xx Miss G

Advertisements

Ultimate Beginners Guide to Knitting

I recently taught my friend Jenn how to knit, and it got me thinking about when I started to knit.  It was just over 3 years ago that I began my first knitting project.  I searched the web trying to figure out everything I needed to know.  Went to one site for one thing, another for something else.  Long story short, it was way too time consuming and frustrating to figure out what I needed to know to begin knitting.

So! I decided it would be a great idea to explain everything it is you need to know (and not know right away) to start your first knitting project!  This will probably be my longest post yet, but very thorough by covering every essential detail and most likely answering every question you’ll have.  PLEASE ask me if you have a question unanswered in this post.

** If I “*” a sentence, I will elaborate more as you read.

To begin:
Find a simple pattern ( preferably something flat like a scarf) that uses thicker yarn, or uses at least size 6 needles.
There are all different size needles and yarn, which I will explain later.*  The best way to not go crazy in the yarn store is to know what you’re looking for.

Ravelry.com is a great site that has any pattern you could possible want.  Sign up for free and do an advanced search to find a pattern. You can customize your search  to what you’re looking for (needle size  used etc.) or, if using another site or pattern book, the pattern will tell you what you need to get started. So look at the needle/yarn size to make sure it’s what you’re looking for.

I strongly recommend thicker needles and yarn because it is easier to see your stitches.  As a new knitter, you’re going to what to see what you’re doing so you can figure out how your stitches link together.

Buying materials:
Needles come in three basic forms : circular, straight or double pointed.

Circular needles are for making larger things such as a blanket or a sweater. Or tubular things like hats.  When knitting with CN you are knitting in the round, which means it is continuous and do not have to change the needles to different hands when you finish a row. I will talk about knitting in the round in another post.

Circular needles are two tapered needles joined together by a strong plastic cable.  They come in various lengths ranging from 12″ to (about) 47″.

These are my personal favorite because anything you can do with straight needles, you can do with these.  It’s silly to buy straight needles and CN of the same size. Trust me, it makes sense.

Straight Needles generally are 10-16inches in length, and are limited in use.  They are mostly used for scarves or small flat things.

Double Pointed Needles are used for making small tubular things such as gloves, socks or hats.  They are slightly different to use than the previous two types because it involves 4 or 5 needles instead of 2.
They are great if you want to make certain things, but not ideal for traveling because the stitches can easily slide off.  They do sell stitch stoppers, but I don’t trust them.

Needle sizes range from US 4- US35 with about 15 different sizes.  The smaller the number, the smaller the needle.

YARN! YARN! YARN!  There is a plethora of yarn out there from different colors, to fibers and textures and weights.

So, you’re at the yarn store and you have your needles picked out, and now it’s time for the hard part: choosing yarn! Which one? How much? WHAT COLOR?!  But, you have you’re pattern and needles picked out, so your selection is limited.

Buy a pretty basket to put your stash, it will grow quickly, and you’re going to want easy access. But…

**** DON’T OPEN YOUR YARN UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THIS! ****

There are 2 very important things to do before you rip open your yarn, then get it all tangled up.
1. SAVE THE LABEL! This is sooo important especially as a beginner because it has all its information on it.  It tells you, what needle size to use, care instructions, lot number* and gauge*.  Buy a box (mine are in a single-bottle wine box) and tape or tie a piece of the yarn to the label.  This is helpful when, you have some left over from a past project and you want to use it again, or you want to buy more of the same yarn. 

IMG_0139

2. ROLL THE YARN INTO A BALL. The general image of yarn is a ball that cats like to play with.  But yarn is not sold that way.  There is no one way it is packaged, but it should always be wound into a ball or it WILL get tangled.

HOW TO WIND YOUR YARN
Generic yarn that you buy at a big name Craft Store will usually be in a log shape, fancily wound with the yarn making a zigzag pattern. The end of the yarn (visible or easily found) should NOT be touched.  Instead, go into the center of the “log” and pull out the mess on yarn.  In here, you will find the other end.  With this, you can beginning winding it by wrapping in around your fingers a few times, then fold it into a ball.  Continue wrapping the yarn in different directions until you run out of yarn.

Other yarns bought at a specialty store  are not at complex.  You simple find an end and start winding.  Some stores may have a yarn winding station that you can use once you’ve purchased your yarn.

LET’S KNIT!

Ok. Actually. Before you can start knitting, you need to cast on your stitches.  It is the hardest part, but once you get the hang of it it’s very rhythmic and relaxing.

There are 2 basic ways to CO: single or double.  I am only going to teach you double (or long-tail) CO because it looks nicer and it has more give.

To begin your CO you will need to make a slip knot, with a long tail that will accommodate for the stitches you will make with it.  You also want some extra at the end to weave in later on.*  Depending on your project and needle size, you will need more or less.  Some knitters do not like this method of CO because there is no true way to measure how much you need.  But it’s better to have enough, because if you don’t have enough, you need to take your stitches off and do it all over again with a longer tail.  I would multiply the width of the project by 2 or 3 depending on the size of your needles/yarn, then add extra for the tail.

So… to make a slip knot, wrap the yarn around two fingers twice.

IMG_0098

Spread your fingers and bring the tail through your fingers and make a loop.

IMG_0099

Finally, take both needles, put it through the loop and tighten it around the needles. Make sure that your end-tail is in the front and yarn tail is in the back.  This will make your CO (first row) purl row.*

Now that you have your slip knot, we are ready to CO!

With your needles in your right hand, take your index finger and thumb and bring them between the two strings.

IMG_0104

Still in the original position, gather the two strings in the ring and pinky fingers.  Then turn your hand outward toward the left.  Raise your middle finger so there are 3 strings forming the letter ‘Z’.  You will be using these 3 strings to form your stitches.

IMG_0106

Keeping your left hand in this position, bring your needles under 1, over 2 under 3

IMG_0114

Then grab 3 with your needles and bring it through 1 (skipping over 2). When you bring your needles back through, there will be a new stitch on you needles.

IMG_0116
Once you’ve brought your needles up through 1, release you thumb and pickup 1. With your thumb pull 1 to tighten the stitch.  Then bring your thumb back to the left with 1 still against it.  Your ‘Z’ formation should go back in place.

IMG_0119

IMG_0120

Repeat this until you’ve reached your desired amount of stitches.  NOTE: The slip knot you made in the beginning will be taken off when you start knitting, so DO NOT count it as a stitch.

When you’re finished it will look like this. (Knit side)
IMG_0066

The back will look like this. (Purl side)
IMG_0067

NOW WE CAN START KNITTING!!!!
There are many, many different stitches that create beautiful knitwear.  But they are all done with 2 simple techniques: the KNIT and the PURL.  Together,  when the knits are knitted and the purls are purled, they create a stockinette stitch.

This is the stockinette stitch showing the KNIT side.  This is the front of the work.
IMG_0169

This is the PURL side of the stockinette stitch. This is the back.
IMG_0170


You will eventually understand how it works and what it is you are actually doing.  You will see that when you knit a row, and turn it to start the next row, the back of the knit row looks like a purl!

If every row was knitted, or every row was purled, you will get a garter stitch.IMG_0172

There are also two different styles of knitting : continental (left-handed) or english (right-handed). This simply refers to which hand you hold the yarn in.  I am teaching english because that is how I knit, but I will teach continental in another post.

To begin:

Remove one needle from the CO stitches, so you are left with 1 needle holding all your stitches, and 1 empty and free.

Take the first stitch on the LN and pull it off.  This is the slip knot you made in the beginning that is not a proper stitch.

Hold the needle with the stitches in your left hand and the empty one in your right hand.

When you did the CO, the end tail was in the front and the yarn tail in the back. Now that you turned your  work over to start the next row, we will start with a PURL row.

Purl= yarn tail in front
Knit= yarn tail in back

HOW TO PURL
From right to left, insert the RN (right needle) through the first stitch and to the front.
IMG_0151

Wrap your tail counter-clockwise (from right to left) around your right needle.
IMG_0153

Holding your tail tight, push your RN back though the center of the stitch (the same way you entered).
IMG_0156

Take the stitch on the LN that you have been working with and push it off the needle.
IMG_0157

Repeat this until the end of the row.

When you are finished with your row, all of your stitches will be on the RN.  Flip the RN to your left hand to start your next row.  You should see the ‘v’ pattern forming on this side. This means you use the knit stitch.
To begin the knit stitch make sure your yarn tail is in the back.

HOW TO KNIT
From left to right, place the RN (from the front of the stitch) through the middle of the first stitch and to the back.

IMG_0071

Wrap the needle with the tail counter-clockwise.

IMG_0072

Holding the tail taut, push the needle back through the way in came.

IMG_0074

IMG_0075

Lift the RN up, and push the stitch off the LN.

IMG_0077

Repeat the knit stitch until the end of the row.

You will notice your stockinette stitch forming.  It is a beautiful stitch, however you may notice your project begin to curl.  This happens and it cannot be flattened.  To help it from curling there is often ribbing for the first few rows.  Ribbing is made by making a pattern of knits and purls in the same row. Ex.: 2 knits, 2 purls.

Are you thinking to your self “How do I get my front tail for purling to the back for knitting?”  Ah, yes. well it is very simple.  When you are finished with a purl stitch, for example, and ready for a knit, just bring the tail in BETWEEN the RN and LN to the back.  Make sure you do not cross the tail OVER the needle.  This with create another “stitch”.  Sort of a phantom stitch that doesn’t belong there.  If you are feeling ambitious and curious TRY IT!

Anyway, we are not done yet!  We still need to finish our project by casting-off.

Casting off is almost exactly like knitting or purling. So, don’t sweat!

It does not matter whether you end on a purl row or knit row.  For the sake of those of you who are ending on a different row than what I will explain, I will use the word “stitch” in place of knit or purl.

So, stitch 2 stitches.
Then take the first stitch you made and lift it up, over the 2nd  stitch and off the needle completely.
IMG_0161

IMG_0162

Stitch one more stitch, so you have 2 stitches on your RN. Again lift it over and off your RN.
IMG_0168
Repeat until the end.
For the last stitch, cut the yarn tail and pull it through the loop.

YOU DID IT!

All you need to do now is weave the ends in with a blunt needle.

Ok now.  So this is a lot of information and I can keep on going.  There are a few more floating thoughts I’d like to get down, but not sure how to sew them into the other thoughts.  So bare with me for just a few more minutes.

I mentioned earlier the gauge, which also appears on almost all labels.  This is an ESTIMATE of how many stitches per inch in a square.  So, for the label above, for this yarn I would use US9 needles and end up with 16 stitches per 4 inches and 22 rows per 4 inches.  HOWEVER, every knitter knits differently.  You should always knit a square and measure your stitches before starting a project.  Especially if it is something that requires accuracy for size.

Lot number refers to the color of the yarn.  Yarn is made in batches, and the dyeing process may vary, so if you buy the same color yarn from the same company with a different lot #, they may be slightly different.

Also, just putting it out there,  pom-poms are made separately and have nothing to do with knitting.  I say this because I was helping Maddy pick out a hat pattern and she liked some hats, but didn’t like the pom-pom.  So she looked for other ones.  But I explained to her that they are made at the end and attached.

As a beginner, absolutely focus on doing it right.  But if you want to try and get comfortable right away, this is how I hold my tail:
The yarn around my finger stays close to the needles (no more than an inch away), and I control the tension with my pinky and ring finger.

IMG_0081

And lastly, I want to mention counting rows.  With scarves and beginner projects, it ‘s not of much concern. You should be getting to know the technique and get in the groove first.  But it’s an easy thing to do, so why not get ahead, right?  If you’re looking at the stockinette stitch, pick a column, and count  each ‘v’ and include the stitch on the needle.

THAT’S IT!  If you’re looking at garter, it’s easier.  If you stretch it a bit, you can see the knits in between the purls, so you can count each purl row by 2.

OK. OK. OK. OK.  I think that is all for now.  I must go check on my clotted cream!!! (Which I am making for my tea party today!)

Craft Fair for a Degenerate

I’m happy to announce that I will be participating in this year’s Degenerate Craft Fair.  It was founded in 2009 by my drawing teacher and artist, Amy Wilson.  The fair features over 50 artists and vendors exhibiting crafts, small works of art and unique gifts perfect for giving this holiday season.

DCF
I will be selling paper goods and ceramic goods alongside my best friend Maddy, who will be selling candles and lanterns.

I hope to see you all come out and buy your holiday gifts at the DCF!

Leaf Rubbings

My brother recently moved back to the states from Brazil with his wife and two kids.  He came ahead of his wife with the kids, Gabriella and Matthew, a day before Hurricane Sandy hit Jersey, and stayed with me while they sorted out their living arrangements.  But while they were living with me, I was Super Aunt (but, really, I always am) keeping them as busy as possible with NO POWER for 10 days while also juggling work and crafting.  The first day or two was rough on the kids: no TV or DVDs, no heat and (duh) no lights.  But we took adventures up to the jungle (attic) and found hundreds of exotic animals (Beanie Babies).  We also colored,played with dolls and cars, and put together jigsaw puzzles.

I thought it would be a good idea to go out and walk around because aside from being inside for days, because everything was closed AND we needed to save our gas, this was the first time Gabriella and Matthew had never seen Fall leaves. (Never mind the SNOW that fell days later!!) So I took Gabriella outside to collect things, leaves in particular, to make something with.  She immediately got into it and was curious as to what we were going to make.  A forest, she thought. Perhaps.  Or maybe some beautiful Leaf Rubbings!

I began by showing Gabriella (7) how it works and explained how to do it.  I mentioned composition, pattern texture as things to keep in mind when making her picture.  At first, she had a bit of trouble getting the texture of the leaf because she was either pressing too hard or too soft.

So, we played with different ways of doing it at first, and found that rubbing the crayon over the leaf horizontally (leaf vertical) was most successful in capturing the fine detail of the leaf textures.  Overall, it was a success!  It was fun to see what was going to happen with each leaf, it was relaxing and our pictures came out beautifully.

Get out and get some leaves before they’re all gone!

Miniature Ceramic Houses

Here are 4 (of 25) glazed houses from my slip casting tutorial!  I’m going to make hundreds and eventually sell them, but for now you can ogle. (I learned that word from crossword puzzles. GO ME!)

Over a year ago I began this post. And did an awful job.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!
Anyway, between then and now: I made a bunch, gave them away to my classmates, made some more and sold them at the Degenerate Craft Fair this past December.  I also have sets being sold in my Etsy Shop, Mellow With a Punch.

I also updated my photo technology, so my documentation on all of my bottles is limited.

Below are a few photos of the collection sold at the DCF.  More photos  and details on pricing can be found at my store on Etsy.  If you would like to purchase bottles, or have a set custom made  please feel free to contact me via Facebook or Etsy.

DSC_0400

 

DSC_0398

 

Gionna Forte-slipcast 2

Holiday Craft Night!

I have been hosting craft night at my apartment on and off for the last four years.  But sadly the last one took place this past Monday.  Plans were in order to decorate Christmas tree ornaments, eat peppermint bark and spend some time with friends. Though that sounds amazing and everyone seemed super excited about it,  the end of the semester stress hit hard and most of my crafters couldn’t make it.  However, my wonderfully dedicated crafters, Joe and Adam came and we had a lovely time together.

So I thought I would share our festive evening with you.  So take a look at what we made! (Sorry in advance for the poor image quality.)

my beautiful (intragramed) tree

my ornament

Joe’s ornament

Adam’s Hanukkah ornament

the rest of them!

and we ate some peppermint (fudge) bark that Adam and Joe presented for the camera

AND nothing can end Holiday Craft Night better than dimming the lights, making some popcorn and watching Elf!

gotta have business cards

My little honeybees!  I can’t wait to share with you all the things that I make.

Today my teacher asked me for contact information to send a book that I made to a gallery, and I thought, ” I need business cards.”  SO, I gathered some of my beautiful florals from my copious collection of paper and got to work.

Before I began I thought about how I would add text, and decided to use my typewriter.  I’m really glad I made that decision, because by the end of typing my business cards, I wasn’t make any mistakes.  I also learned that a lowercase L is used for the number 1! Anyway here’s how I made them.

Supplies:
floral/ colorful paper
plain paper (white or cream)
scissors
straight edge
x-acto knife & cutting mat or paper slicer
glue stick 
typewriter ( or computer)
pencil

* for those of you using a computer, obviously ignore the typewriter nonsense

Step 1- measure you paper and figure out what size you want your cards to be and what information you would like to include. mark out your paper with you pencil

Step 2- if you want, test out your typewriter(if you have one) insert your paper and begin your journey.

Step 2A- for the computer, open up Word, or a similar program, set you document to have columns ( as many as you can fit your cards in, and copy and paste your information. print

i'm not jane doe, and that is not my information

Step 3- cut out your cards.

Step 4- cut a strip of your chosen decorative paper about 1/2in wider than your card.  then cut the strip 1/2in longer than your card.  take 2 pieces, glue them together, then glue your business card on top.

and you get these!

the end.

<3 G