June 30, 2009

berries, block prints, food, and foof!

oatmeal with berries

pete’s parents came up for a full 2 week vacation, and pete was able to get a total of 6 days off work to hang with them; i managed to take most of that time off too (working on knitting patterns in the car whenever possible) so we had all kinds of adventures! there’s so much to show, so i’m dividing it into 2 posts, and i’m going a little backwards, starting with last friday/saturday.

besides being taken out to amazing portland meal after meal, i’ve been eating fabulously at home the last few days, after we picked berries on sauvie island!  as i write this, i’m drinking tazo awake tea with local honey from the island, mmmmm.

sauvie island! sauvie island!

it was a new experience for us all, walking through the farms and filling our baskets with fresh fruit.  we drove on to the island, and started looking for berry picking signs, with no specific farm in mind, so we started at a small-ish blueberry field.  (it actually seemed pretty huge, until we had our second farm to compare it to, pictured above)

sauvie island! sauvie island!

the blueberries were easy!  they were mostly at good ripeness, and the ripe ones fall off easily when you wiggle them, so you pretty much shake the bundles with your basket underneath and the good ones fall right in!  between the 4 of us, we got a huge bag full (the total ended up filling 3 quart-size ziplock bags) for about $4!!  unbelievable!  and delicious!

sauvie island!

then we wandered around the island some more and came across a raspberries sign…  it ended up being a huge farm with dozens of different things growing, the main ones on that day being raspberries, blueberries, and cherries.  there were also smaller patches of peas, lettuce, and some others that i can’t remember, and the not-ready-yet sections included tons of marionberries, and lots of herbs and other stuff i can’t remember…

sauvie island!

the raspberries were at the very beginning of ready-ness (i’m pretty sure it was the first day for them, so we lucked out!) so they were trickier.  it was more of a hunt to find the ripe ones hidden behind tons of unripe ones.

sauvie island! sauvie island!

but oh was it worth the work!!

sauvie island!

and then, i saved the best for last… this wasn’t even on the sign at all, but the lady told us there might be a few hood strawberries left!  they were just at the end of their time, but we figured we’d go search around and maybe find 2 or 3 good ones.  it was definitely a search – so exciting to see a red spot inside all that green!

sauvie island! sauvie island!

but we ended up finding a bunch of them!!  mostly small-ish ones – that photo below on the right shows our bucket; the top layer is all strawberries!  yummm!!  oh and, guess how much that huge thing of fresh raspberries and hood strawberries cost us… just guess… ok, ready?  $2.60!  for real!

sauvie island! sauvie island!

last weekend i made a batch of vanilla/white chocolate chip cupcakes to try out my yard sale cupcake book, so after berry-picking i ate one with raspberries and blueberries – so good!!  then for a couple breakfasts in a row i had oatmeal with berries.  i’m going to have to make sauvie island a regular trip now, food just won’t be the same without it!

berry cupcake oatmeal with berries

the day after sauvie island i didn’t take any photos, but i have to tell you a bit about it.  we went to the portland art museum to see the escher show – i didn’t think i was that into it, but i always love art museums, so i was up for checking it out.  wow, i was so wrong!  i am a total escher fan now!  especially as someone who does printmaking – it was so cool to see his actual lino blocks and wood blocks, and to see several process series.  like, the original concept drawing, then another drawing designing it more, then 2 separate block designs, each printed on its own, then the final print with the 2 (or 3) different blocks, and the blocks themselves.  so cool!  (not my personal favorite, but this is one where we got to see the actual 3 woodblocks.)

and then, weirdly enough, the patterny works were really inspiring as a knit designer.  i think it’s the same kind of thought process that turns organic shapes into a seamless pattern, and turns rows of knit stitches into a shape or pattern… am i crazy?  i need to go to art museums more, they can be so creatively inspirational in a unique way.  anyway, this is another print i really liked, and this was crazy awesome to see, taking up a whole wall.

lastly about those days with pete’s parents, roundup of pdx food highlights!  sweet potato pancakes at gravy (they taste like carrot cake!), falafel at ya hala, veggie lasagna at sub rosa, then on the days pete had to work but we still had a few meals out with them – hash brown scramble with veggie gravy at jam was best!

guess who had a birthday the other day!

happy birthday banzo!

our foofy kitten is now a whole year old! (that shot was taken the day before her bday.)

Filed under: personal,photos,portland stuff,random stuff — leethal @ 5:20 pm

June 20, 2009

black sheep ’09!

so much fun at black sheep gathering yesterday! but first things first… baby goats! (the sound isn’t important, so turn off your sound now if you want.)

i think we were told they’re 4 weeks old. oh so cute! but ok besides that…  fiber!

black sheep gathering '09 black sheep buys

we looked at braid after braid of pretty fiber, and skein after skein of yarn, and i carried around that massive mesh bag full of this:

black sheep buys

i went for lots of small amounts of all different colored dyed fiber, to use bits in my spinning for stripes and many-colored yarns.  this gave me the most variety and the best deals…

black sheep buys black sheep buys

black sheep buys black sheep buys

  • 7 different colorways of wool from reflection farm, 1 ounce of each (not sure what kind of wool, probably a blend?)
  • 100% merino in 4 different multi-colored colorways and 3 different solids, approximately 1 ounce of each from eugene textile center
  • 5 “puppy” batts (about .5oz) and one bigger mini-batt (1.5oz) from schildt ranch in all different colors
  • 3 ounces of dyed locks from the blackberry patch

black sheep gathering '09

and then there were the sheep… some very silly sheep, with some verrrry silly voices! hah!

black sheep gathering '09

and the goats!

black sheep gathering '09

and more baby goats!

black sheep gathering '09

and just one more… (you can see more animal shots here.)

black sheep gathering '09

and in case you didn’t believe me about the silly voices: (turn the sound on for this one!)

for lunch we went into downtown eugene and ate brown slices in our lotus delight.  then on the way home we stopped in salem for some blizzards (yumm strawberry cheesequake!)…

eugene02 dairy queen in salem, or

…and some thrifting!!

value village in salem, or value village in salem, or

where i found some crafty stuff!  lots of buttons (yay!), a knit/crochet book from 1972 and a pretty good pillowcase set:

value village buys

and then today i felt super inspired to spin, of course!  so spun for a total of about 4 hours, and 360 yards, in the form of 2 skeins of 2-ply (one 86 yards and one 34 yards)…

spunsingles spunonthebobbin

and am totally in love with that one – half alpaca, half all different assorted dyed wools, mostly dyed by me, with a few messy cocoons and beehives thrown in the mix for fun!  i don’t get to keep it though, it’ll be added to the shop once it’s washed and photographed.  and then i did a mini-skein for myself with all the different merino colors from eugene textile center.  the merino was kinda weird to spin, but i don’t have too hard a time with it as long as i’m spinning it thick and thin and not worrying about consistency… if i was trying to make a perfectly even yarn i would probably hate merino.  anyway, it was fun!

spuncloseup spunyarns

so now i’m looking forward to spinning a lot more!  i just ordered a bunch of undyed wools (bfl, shetland, merino, merino/bamboo blend, icelandic, corrie blend) from spunky eclectic, so once i get that i’m sure i’ll be doing tons of dyeing, followed by tons of spinning! and perfect timing, with the tour de fleece right around the corner!!

Filed under: photos,portland stuff,yarn — leethal @ 11:46 pm

June 16, 2009

knitting, fairness, fiber, and more knitting

how was your wwkip day?  not that we don’t all knit in public all the time, but it’s always fun to have an excuse to go knit with a friend over coffee + ice cream (in my case) instead of staying in and working all day like i normally do on saturdays.  i met my awesome buddy star at pix for an americano and some fabulous blood orange ice cream – no shots of me knitting since i was working on a supersecret project!  (but there is this super awkward one the barista guy took when he misheard star asking me to take one and thought we wanted him to, haha)

pix on worldwide knit in public day pix on worldwide knit in public day

we got to talking about designer fairness issues, a subject that was going around on knit designers’ blogs a few months ago after annie modesitt bravely addressed a major problem with vogue knitting’s designer contracts.  unfortunately, the subject came up because of a potential problem star might have with a design contract, reminding me that i never wrote about the subject here like i’d planned to.  basically, if you are a knit designer, aspiring to be one, or are a buyer of patterns in any form, i encourage you to read one or all of the posts by annie modesitt, ysolda, or knitgrrl. (these are just the ones i’ve read – let me know if there are more good ones.)

personally, i am more and more confident that self-publishing almost exclusively is the route i plan to continue taking as a designer.  i may someday submit a design to a magazine, if i have a pattern i think would be a good fit, but if/when that happens i will be reading my contract thoroughly and i will not be signing unless i’m ok with everything.  and i’ll know that there’s still a chance something will happen with my pattern that i’m not happy with, because sadly, that’s just the way it goes, it seems to me.  (usually this means it gets edited down to fit the layout, but it could be worse.)

if you are a new designer, aspiring to get published in a magazine or book as soon as the opportunity arises, i urge you, please, read those posts and don’t accept any contract that isn’t fair to you.  by signing a contract that doesn’t value your work, you would not just be hurting yourself, but you’d be making it harder for all other designers to get fair treatment.  with magazines fighting to stay in print, paying more attention to their websites as marketing tools, trying to cut corners whereever possible to stay afloat, we really need to make sure we’re not sacrificing our own well-being as designers to help them.  i want the magazines to survive as much as any other knitter, but designers deserve fair treatment dammit.  like ysolda saysThe only way things are going to change for everyone is if we stand together.

one last way to look at it, if you don’t understand why it’s important for designers to be treated fairly… imagine a knitting magazine minus the patterns… well, that’s just ridiculous… how about, think about what you like about knitting magazines and knitting websites out of everything there is (patterns, articles, book reviews, ads, etc) – now think about what percentage of the value for you comes from the patterns… now read this excerpt from annie modesitt’s post:

Designers earn just a hair more now for a pattern than they did in the mid-80′s. Factor in cost of living, and we’re earning less than we did 20 years ago. Add to this the latest slap in the face – 90% of internet sales revenue will go back to the magazine – and we, as designers, realize exactly how much we’re valued. T E N P E R C E N T.

not cool. right? right.

blacksheepgathering11.jpg

ok moving on to fun fiber-related stuff… black sheep is friday!!  i’ll be heading to eugene with caitlin, star, and kate, and i’m suuuper excited!  it was a great time last year, and i got tons of fibery goodness!  this year, i’m bringing less cash and buying only a few specific things i have in mind, but even though my spending it limited, it’s just so fun to look at all the pretty fiber and yarn… mmmmmmm… and then there’s the animals! yay!

blacksheepgathering03.jpg

and lastly, for this knit-tastic post, i made this hat for a birthday present for my brother ben:

birthdayhat8 birthdayhat5

ok that’s all, just wanted to show you.  i have a feeling i won’t be posting for a little while because pete’s parents are in town so we’ll be hanging with them a bunch doing fun portlandy things.  if you see me at black sheep, say hi!

Filed under: hats,knitting,lots of links,portland stuff,self-publishing — leethal @ 8:39 pm

June 9, 2009

bobbie’s tee tote tutorial!

tee totes

a few months ago i got the nicest package in the mail!  pete’s aunt bobbie made this super crafty, recycley t-shirt tote bag and sent me not just the bag itself, but a supernice note with a how-to for making my own!  so flippin awesome!  so this is bobbie’s tutorial, brought to you by do stuff!

bobbie's bag w/note bobbie's bag

start by choosing a fun t-shirt to recycle (i found this one at the bins!) and cut out rectangles from the front and back.  the best way (and bobbie’s way) is to cut equal sized rectangles from each side, but i hacked it a little because my image was on the back and the front collar went down too far – if i cut the pieces equal sizes, i would have cut into the image.  so i cut the back piece bigger than the front, and evened it out later when sewing the sides.

but now, back to the next step… after cutting the rectangles, sew the bottoms together with right sides facing.  stitch it twice for extra durability.

tee tote tutorial tee tote tutorial

then sew up the 2 sides.  since my pieces were uneven, i lined up the top, and stitched down to the bottom, so that bottom seam is off center.

then fold the top edge inwards and sew a hem around.  next, cut two handle pieces from old jeans, or other sturdy fabric (but the jeans work great – fabulous idea, bobbie!) in stripes about 22 inches by 2 inches.  fold the strips in half lengthwise and sew up the edges (i sewed 3 lines, for extra flatness and just for fun).  attach the handles to the bag equal distances in from the sides, by sewing a box with an x for strength.  i sewed mine on to the outside, bobbie sewed hers in the inside, so you choose!

tee tote tutorial tee tote tutorial

lastly, you need to make a flat bottom for your bag… i messed up on this step, partly because my off-center bottom seam made it much more difficult, and partly because my bag is extra narrow so i needed to sew in a much shorter distance.  so, pictured is bobbie’s well-done bottom, and, instructions in her words: with the bag inside-out, fold a triangle by lining up the bottom seam with the side seam.  stitch across about 4 inches down from the point (adjust for your bag size as needed); repeat on the other side.

tee tote tutorial

my finished bag!

tee tote tutorial my bag

yay! thanks bobbie!!

Filed under: general crafts,tutorials — leethal @ 8:51 pm

June 7, 2009

thrifty finds: stripey sweater and cupcakes book!

a couple weeks ago i decided to take a saturday afternoon walk, and found a garage sale on craigslist to head towards, in search of buttons or sweaters to unravel.  didn’t find either of those, but i did score vegan cupcakes take over the world for a dollar!

vegan cupcakes book free sweater

then on the walk back home, i happened upon a free stuff box containing this stripe-tastic sweater!!  the colors called my name, of course, and i assumed it wouldn’t happen to fit me, so i’d use it for some crafty purpose, but look!  it fits me perfectly!! heck yeah!

free sweater

the stats

  • where: walking around my neighborhood
  • what: cupcakes cookbook and rad me-sweater
  • total damage: $1

this is the first in a new category of posts! yay!  in the spirit of doing stuff, i plan to start sharing awesome things i find at thrift stores and garage sales, because spending a tiny bit of your hard earned cash on used things to give them a new life is much better than spending a lot of it on new stuff, where your money might go to evil things like sweatshop labor and malls.  (if you have the cash though, it’s a great thing to spend it in local indepedent shops, craft fairs, etc, of course, especially in the current economy.  support things that are awesome in any way you can!)

Filed under: thrifty finds — leethal @ 6:09 pm

June 5, 2009

a landmark and lots of reflection

a couple days ago i realized that i missed my 1 year anniversary of being self-employed – kind of a big deal, pretty freaking awesome!  i honestly didn’t think i’d make it a year without getting some kind of part-time job or taking work i didn’t want, but i did it!  so, in traditional blog-related anniversary fashion, i made a massive (2-part) photo mosaic of images taken from my blog posts over the last year…

first year of self-employment, part 1

first year of self-employment, part 2

it was fun reading back over all i’ve done! that’s a smattering of worky things, designs, fun (craft-related) events/outings, etc…  so i’ve been doing a lot of reflecting the last couple days, and it’s funny that it seems my state of mind now isn’t too far away from where it was a year ago.  i’m so happy that i’ve made it here, but this whole freelancey self-employed career is just as scary now as it was then!  it’s also amazing and exciting and totally worth the stress and constant working and any other downsides!  but yeah, i’m still just doing a few solid things that i know will bring me a little rent money, and the rest is up in the air, just like it was a year ago.  the big difference is now i know i made it this first year, so i don’t see any reason why i can’t make it another!

maryspinning1.jpg

moving on, diane is doing a craftypod giveaway for my ten 10 yard cuffs ebook!  to win, you just have to comment on the post with your thoughts on ebooks – there are some interesting comments so far.  i feel similarly to a lot of people – i love to hold a book in my hands and flip through the physical pages, but buying ebooks saves paper, ink, other resources, shipping, and money, so it’s a trade off.  as a self-publisher, pdfs are soooo much easier to sell than anything physical that i have to mail out (especially knitting pdfs thanks to ravelry!!), and they save me so much time and money that i can sell them so much cheaper and everyone benefits.

cuffs pdf cover kit book cover

i do make a physical version of the cuffs book, but only for the kits – i give the option of getting a kit with a pdf instead, but i don’t give the option of getting a real book instead of an ebook alone.  this is mostly because of my own resources (time and money) but also because each book i make up uses paper (even if it is recycled paper) and ink and i try not to be wasteful.  but, it’s all very hard for me to make decisions like this (ebook vs real book) because of my love for real books, so i totally understand the people who say they don’t buy digital.  i think it’s this major adjustment we’re all going to have to slowly get used to because it just makes sense (economically, ecologically) for both self-publishers and buyers to go in the digital direction.  and as far as publishing companies go, well that’s a whole other subject, but i think more and more writers will go in the self-publishing direction, and therefore end up going digital.  generally speaking.  what do you think?

and then this topic leads to another of diane’s recent posts – how to kill your favorite website.  this is a fantastic post about the financial demise of craftstylish, as it followed many other craft publications in its inability to successfully monetize and keep up its awesomeness.  you should go read the post – it’s a tough subject and diane did a great job of concisely breaking it down.  basically, this world needs to evolve, because what used to work just doesn’t anymore.  as for what you, the reader, can do, i’ll copy diane’s conclusion here: “For now, when you watch TV, read websites, or flip through magazines, consider asking yourself these questions: ‘Who made this? Did I get value from it? And if so, how can I support the people who created that value?’”

craftstylish tutorials mosaic!

and she inspired me to create yet another mosaic, this one featuring my favorite craftstylish projects from my 8 months of tutorials over there.  and i’ll quote her again because she said it best: “I think it’s good to point out: all this content was brought to you by them. There’s no way I could have created the time to make so many how-tos if they weren’t paying me for them.”  so true.

so now that i’m going in this new direction for my own career path – trying to be a bit more self-sufficient instead of relying on the continued success of outside sources (like i was doing with craftstylish), i do plan to devote some time once in awhile to quality tutorials here on do stuff! but, of course, this is part of my “job” and unfortunately it does all come down to money (hey i may live in a cheap apartment in portland, but rent and food still cost money).  i think it’s obvious that this blog’s purpose is, in part, to help crafters and potential shoppers become aware of my stuff and patterns for sale.  but i don’t plan on ever putting ads on my blog and i hope that i’m able to make ends meet doing what i’m doing, so that i can afford the time to put valuable content here for you to enjoy, cost free!  (one thing i did just add while working on my site redesign is the little share this page! button at the bottom of each post. sharing any of my posts that you like, via twitter, facebook, email, or a ton of other methods offered, is an easy and free way that you can help support me!)

double take

which leads me to yet another craftypod topic, from the latest podcast which i just listened to - craft blogging: what should you write about? the part that spoke most strongly to me was about writing your passion.  when i first started brainstorming about making a zine, which then branched off and became this blog, i was so excited to think up the concept/title do stuff! because, as silly as it sounds, that it my passion!  doing stuff!  my whole life i’ve always hated the idea of boredom – i’d get angry at my brothers for saying they were bored – i’ve always had a million projects going on at once (even as a little kid), multi-tasking whenever possible.  so instead of just starting a craft zine/blog, i wanted to start a “stuff” zine/blog, so i’d have the freedom to write about any stuff that i like to do!  sure, i’m passionate about knitting and knit design, and crafting in general, but i’m also passionate about photography, and i also have bursts of passionate phases in printmaking, cooking/baking, sewing, web design, dyeing+spinning, art, music, beading, home decorating projects, and who knows what else in the future!

me with mug me out shooting respect the needles. tame the yarn.

so, i created do stuff! and sometimes i lose sight of the point.  so i need to remember my passion: doing stuff!  i can’t let myself blog so often about things i’m selling (i try really hard to keep that down to a smallish percentage of my posts) and i need to remember to blog more often, in general, because there’s always some fun stuff going on in my life!  it may not be craft related, which is why i might not think to blog it, but if it’s doing stuff related and i’m into it, then hey, it’s blog material!  so i’ve come up with a few different blog topics that i hope to make regular quicky posts – things that i can get up here without so much time and writing required, so that i’ll be posting more often, and with more variety.  i’ll leave the topics a secret for now, but you’ll start seeing them soon!

Filed under: craftstylish,lots of links,personal,photos,self-publishing — leethal @ 9:17 pm

June 1, 2009

lost in code-land!

ohmygosh i feel totally out of touch with the world.  a little while back i started planning a website redesign, kind of vaguely, and then about a weekish ago i started teaching myself css. (the current version of leethal.net, as well as leemeredith.com and my other sites are all just plain html, no style sheets.)  that resulted in sucking myself deep into code-land for the last several days!  i’ve totally got a good solid grasp of css now, all self-taught, so i would go at things kind of backwards and have to find the right path to figure out what i needed…. so i’ve spent hours at a time trying to figure out one little element, then i jump with joy when i figure it out, hah!

code-land!

days of designing, trial and error, codecodecode, and i’m so so so so happy with how the site is looking!!  all the elements of leethal.net will be one cohesive website, with easy navigation, and there will be some new pages and a brand new section which is a project i’m super excited about!  it’s still a couple weeks from all being done, but i can’t wait!  pardon my rambling, it’s this code-land i’m in, it’s hard to focus in here!

new blog menu

you can see a peek of the design that’s coming here in my blog – i’ve updated some colors to match (don’t worry, there will still be tons of orange!), put borders on the pictures, and the menu bar has a new look!  let me know if anything is weird or buggy.  editing the css for the blog is a little trickier since someone else wrote it to begin with and there are some mystery parts that i don’t understand.  i think i made it work though (if you happened to click over to my blog sometime around noon today, you may have seen a messed up in-progress version with no header or something)….

circle lace cuff

moving on… my last craftstylish post ended up being a free cuff pattern – one of the designs that didn’t make it into the set. it’s a little weird, but it’s a fun lace pattern, if you’re new to lace (like me). i’ll knit a size large version sometime soonish because i think that’ll look better that this small version…

circle lace cuff circle lace cuff

i was so excited to see this craftstylish post about other people’s versions of my skirt pattern!  my favorite picture is the second one on this post, with the crafter and her mom both wearing their skirts!!  so awesome!!

teeskirt2

ok, back to code-land, since i can’t get my head off the site… hey can i ask you all a few questions that could help me with my design?  any feedback you could give would help me with some of these decisions….

  • how do you feel about outside links opening in a new tab?  example: you’re on a leethal pattern page, and click to see the pattern on ravelry. is ravelry opening in a new tab ok, or annoying?
  • do you like/prefer buttons over text for “buy now” “add to cart” etc?  if the font size/color is different to set it apart, is that enough, or are buttons much better?

hmm i can’t think of any more questions.  thanks!!  back to coding i go!

Filed under: craftstylish,knitting,leethal.net,random stuff — leethal @ 5:21 pm
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