29 June 2010

So Much Beauty (Growing) in Dirt

I have a lot of hobbies. Like, a lot of hobbies. My dad used to say that I lose interest too easily, but I think it would have been more accurate to say that I gain interest too easily. When I see something that intrigues me, I want to know all about. 'Ravenous' would be an apt word to describe my manner when I'm exploring or researching a new topic that excites me. 

Miniature African Violet "Rob's Squeeze Toy"

For a long time now...twenty or so years at this point (file under: "things you realise that make you suddenly feel old"), one of those interests has been flower gardening. Living, as I do, in a Brooklyn apartment with no dirtspace at my convenience, this has come to mean "container flower gardening". Fortunately for all involved, I rather enjoy growing several kinds of plants that are quite content to grow in a little plastic pot, one of them being African Violets.

African Violet species Saintpaulia ionantha

Who knows why we are drawn to the things that we are. For me, I think these little plants charmed me with their near-endless profusion of flowers that freaking sparkle--not in a dumb Twilight-ey way--when you look at them up close. If you've never noticed this before, I highly recommend that you check for yourself next time you see African Violets in a reasonably well-lit room (& some varieties 'sparkle' more than others). Regardless of where it began, though, I was more than smitten when I stumbled upon the photo archives of the African Violet Society of America. It wasn't long before I was hunting down sources to buy young plants & leaves of my favorite varieties.

Miniature African Violet "Rob's Squeeze Toy"

The pics I've shared here are all (coincidentally, I didn't plan this, I swears it!) plants that I grew from leaf cuttings. Some of my absolute favorites are not in bloom at the moment, but that just gives me a reason to make another post like this down the road, no?  ;o)  

Miniature African Violet "Honey Blue Ace"

Like the African Violets we're all likely familiar with, these are mostly hybrids of different Saintpaulia sp. varieties that have been in cultivation for decades. The one exception in my collection is Saintaulia ionantha, which I've always loved as an example of tropes like "less is more", "classic beauty" & other things that mean that something doesn't have to be super complicated in order to be interesting & beautiful.

African Violet "Funambule"

I hope you've enjoyed this mini-tour of what's happening on my plant rack right now. I promise, there will be talk of knitting again soon. ;o)

22 June 2010

Happy Birthday, Etsy!

Last Friday (18 June 2010) was Etsy's craft party in celebration of their 5th Birthday. I had never been to one of their craft parties before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Also, I neglected to bring my camera. (sad trumpet sound here). Needless to say, it was lots of fun & I definitely hope to make their craft parties a part of my regular social repertoire.

The party was held at the "Etsy Lab", as they call their offices in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to the DJ & snax (they provided a yummy spread to round out the tasty nibbles that partygoers brought to share), there were several stations set up with supplies for assorted craft projects, sitting areas, a photostation, & lots of crafty people for hobnobbing, networking, and sundry hanging-out-with.

I think my favorite 'craft station' was the Screen Printing project, wherein one had the opportunity to screen print one's very own Etsy tote bag! The Etsy staffers were super helpful & friendly in assisting all the people who wanted to make their very own must-have bag of summer. Here is mine, and the uppermost pic on this post is the imprint (pre-printed on every bag) on the other side of the bag. It's really a generous size, ample for carrying any of the craft supplies an Etsy seller or patron would likely need to schlep all over town. The strap is a good size, too; it fits comfortably over my giant man-shoulder. Just kidding; my man-shoulder isn't really giant.

The buttonmaking table offered another simple-yet-fun craft. I had never operated a button press before & either it's more complicated than you'd expect, or I'm not so good with following directions. It's probably a combination of the two (but really it's likely mostly the latter). Whatever the source of the kerfuffle (which I narrowly escaped from with my life!), the result was the cute & commemorative 1" button above. 

I picked up the additional buttons (shown above) at the registration table because who doesn't love schwag? I know I do! Other craft stations included an opportunity to make your own party hat (I didn't partake; I really don't have hat-face), mini bunting banners, and a glass-painting station to decorate your very own glass candle holder. Besides the schwag, though, it was really inspiring & reassuring to meet other crafty folks (like Jenny of OverallBaby) who had an idea & ran with it. Aside from the sheer gumption & drive that it takes to create a small business where the focus is something that one really enjoys, I think it's incredibly hopeful to remember that this was Etsy's 5th birthday, & they're still growing!

I don't currently have an Etsy shop, though I've been toying with the idea, & there's nothing like meeting awesome creative people who have done it to give one a push in that direction!

As I wrap this post up, I want to assure you that, yes, the fabric background in a couple of the pictures is, indeed, shiny. It's also stretch fabric. Somehow, in all of my fabric-shopping adventures, I managed to never choose anything that appeals to the photographer in me as "appropriate" for a photo backdrop. The shiny stretchy remnant that I bought to make into doll pants was the best I could find.


"First World Problems", as they say.

01 June 2010


I recently noticed that my knitting pattern "The Natural" has more than 100 projects on Ravelry. I'm not gonna lie: this is pretty awesome! It's always lovely to be able to make something that you enjoy & then see it so well received (like the one member who has knit it no fewer than eleventy-pi times!).

Of course, this is totally a "could not have done this without you" moment, so THANK YOU to everyone who has downloaded the free pattern PDF (download it now!) and knit this project. Hopefully you'll continue to enjoy the part where I enjoy doing what I do.  <3

Also, the pattern is still available in French!!! How cool is that!?

"Les explications sont aussi dispondibles en Francais. Merci beaucoup a Marina Orry pour faire et oufrir cette traduction sur son blog!"