little needles

IMG_1496How completely and utterly satisfying is that?  Finishing a sock in one knitting-sitting.  Sock #2 is on its way tonight, and because I didn’t have size 1 dpns (what?!  how can you even see that small??) these 0-3 months sized booties are more like a 9-12 months, which is fine, because that little incubating biscuit will be able to wear them next winter.

Loving the yarn, too, a sock blend with colors that switch the perfect amount for nice, thick stripes on infant/child-sized socks.

You want to make little booties, too?  Judy Kaethler’s “Cozy Little Toes” is free on Ravelry.

screen printing in the rubble

just look at that pegboard!

just look at that pegboard!

Making this move has had its ups and downs.  Sometimes you’ll be driving in the car for what seems like DAYS just to get to a decent Thai food place.  But then you go downstairs and realize:  “What??  I have a workshop?!  A real, live workshop!” and then suddenly pad thai accessibility doesn’t seem like such a deal breaker.

It should be noted that the nearest, decent Thai restaurant is only a ten minute drive away.  It should also be noted that I know I’m a crybaby.  City people are so spoiled.

Right now, the workshop kinda looks like this:

mystery boxes

mystery boxes

Even though we’re working with only 20% of floor space I had a chance to break out the ol’ screen printing tools and go to work today.  I had two onesie orders to fill from a couple weeks ago when all our stuff was in limbo, and Metal Feathers needed t-shirts so I got to work.

Click on the image to buy your own Harbor Seal Onesie!

Click on the image to buy your own Harbor Seal Onesie!

I made five of these in different sizes to complete the current stock I have.  If you think the harbor seal design is cute and want one of your own just click right here.

metal feathers

metal feathers

Then came the MFers tees — this was a tough design to print, because the glasses are so thick and the writing was pretty thin, so getting the ink saturation was difficult.  I had to go over it once and then a second time, with emphasis on the ‘m’ and the ‘s’ at the bottom/top of the design.  The guys said they came out well, though, so I guess my work here is done.

work!

work!

There are a lot of lovely things about the new house, but one thing in particular is the utility sink in the workshop.  Just genius.  So now instead of running up to the kitchen or outside to the hose I can just walk my screen over to the sink and wash it, no threat of getting ink in non-crafty places.  Well, I can wash it conveniently right after I drop it on the floor and start screaming at the Yudu machine.  Seriously — it’s the dumbest machine to rely heavily on because I refuse to learn the right way to do anything.  Anyways, check this out:

swoon

swoon

Mostly it was just really relaxing to actually start making things with my hands again.  They’ve been busy with packing boxes, lifting boxes, scraping walls, ripping up carpet, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning for the last month.  I also picked up some light, summer knitting (100% cotton happy beach time hair bands… coming soon…) to do while we watch the Netflixes.  Handwork is essential to me and I’m glad I don’t have to put it on the back burner anymore, even if there are about 100 boxes that need to be unpacked…

construction

farty1017

completely unrelated photography i took a few years ago with my medium format camera. there were literally no pictures in my portfolio I could describe as ‘simple.’ that will change.  see for yourself by clicking on this picture to view my picasa pages.

Doing a little New-Year’s-cleaning around here, so don’t mind the mess while I get the site sorted out.  I made no resolutions (I never do) but I decided that the word to keep reminding myself in 2013 is simplify.’  It is so righteously the opposite of everything ‘Audrey’ but every time I find myself loving something aesthetically it’s usually because it’s clean, crisp, fresh, open.  Simple.

So that’s why the website needs to look this way.  It’s also why I needed to go through our hardware drawer (read:  pile) on Sunday to intricately sort half of it and give the remaining half to the recycling man.  Also why I pulled all my shoes out of the closet and decided which majority of them was going to our local clothing charity.  I have too many things, too much noise.  The idea is that I’m going to systematically go through my entire closet from the feet up:  socks are next, then I will be doing pants and skirts.  This keeps the task simple, and in the end, the entire closet will be a reflection of where I want my head to be.

I’d also like to openly invite any of you out there in the ether who have some service, product, or talent that you’d like to have shared in another space.  Musicians, artists, Etsy sellers, chefs, travelers, non-profit organizers, and anything else you can think of.  After all, I can’t really fit a week’s worth of content just talking about myself… c’mon.  I’m not going to pretend I didn’t watch three Law & Order episodes back to back last night.  And totally started viewing the entire series of Arrested Development again in anticipation of the coming season.  I digress.  Just leave a little comment on this entry or email littleeyedesigns at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

’til next time,

audrey

 

Thinking Ahead: Valentine’s Day

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like a Morning Constitutional Outdoors

Only seven weeks away, and if you make a week’s allowance for shipping in time for February 14th that really only leaves six weeks.  This year the name of the game is preempting the seasonal trends.  Two months seems like a long time, but for research, development, execution, photography and listing it’s not that much!

Above is a popular photograph I sold last year, available both as an 8×10 print, or a 8″x8″ photograph framed in a 10″x10″ frame.  The photograph is of an outhouse my Grammie has outside her cabin in rural VT, which she’s using as a toolshed.  Let’s also not forget that on this very same photo-expedition in the woods behind her house I also saw a HUGE BEAVER gnawing on a tree, thought it was a baby bear, and promptly ducked behind the biggest tree I could find lest its Mama Bear found me to be a threat.  But then after a bit I am thinking to myself “Why is that baby bear chewing on a tree?” and quickly remembered the beaver pond was due east.  Ha-ha!  The pictures of the beaver aren’t the clearest, but if there’s enough interest I may throw a snapshot up on the blog.

Coming Soon to Little Eye

I’m also excited to report I’ve done a little Photoshop, graphic design fun time and came up with the above graphic as a future ‘set of 3′ magnets + pins.  I’ll also be making mix n’ match earrings and barrettes with the designs as well as pendants.

We used to have a bar here in Portland called The White Heart, a spoof off the famous UK watering hole called The White Hart.  For those of you in-the-know, you are totally aware that mature stags (appx. 5 years and older) used to be referred to as ‘harts.’  Now they’re just plain awesome.  I’m really digging these graphics because although they’re clearly seasonal, they’re applicable any time of the year.  I was considering doing a pink/red version of the set but something about that feels wrong so it’s just going to stay as is.  I might be persuaded to do red/baby blue since that’s my favorite.  In any case:  tell your friends!  Or don’t tell ’em and get them a nice, $5 set of 3 pins or magnets as a little way of saying “I ❤ you” this Valentine’s Day.

~~~

You know what else is happening around Valentine’s Day?  Our band, Bath Salts, is playing its first show up in Brunswick with excellent acts:  Foam Castles, The Rattlesnakes and Berth Control.  Details to come – but you should come hang out with us!  Ok!

Christmas Wishes

"miriam" cardigan from Quince & Co. Click to view/purchase pattern.

Aww geez, just when I contented myself with manufacturing little socks, hats and headbands I see a thing of beauty like this.

The simplicity kinda makes me think I could make it and not have bunchy armpit, bulky shoulder and wavy neckline problems, and if you’ve ever been to Knit Wit on Congress St. and touched Quince & Co.‘s yarns… hoo boy.  That’s a nice sweater.

Click Here to view "Chickadee" yarn from Quince & Co.

 

I think I’m gonna make mine orange (nasturtium).  The apricot totally caught my eye but I have a really special talent at dropping food on my clothes.  I’d also love it in navy or olive green.  What the heck, am I making four sweaters now?  Jeez, focus Audrey!

If anyone out there in internetland wants to partner up and make this sweater for themselves at the same time as me let me know!  Daring to make a pattern for something bigger than 6″ long is a big step, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a buddy to talk to when the going gets tough!

Inspiration: Heartfelt Gifts , Playing Cards and Calendula

Calendula Salve recipe from Barnacle Bags Blog - click to view!

Beautiful, beautiful.  It’s Christmas-time and having had the very recent experience of battling crowds at our closest Toys R’ Us (and almost not surviving to tell the tale) I feel it’s very, very very (very very very) important to share the importance of giving a gift of time, effort and love over price tags + capitalism.

Every year as the crowds get crazier, and more pepper spray-ier my opinion on this matter gets stronger and stronger.  Our economy is driven almost entirely by a paradigm that seems to say “disposable is good, more is good, spending money equates status and I don’t care where this item came from, as long as it’s cheap.”  Whoa, whoa, whoa America.  Let’s take a step back!

Buying locally, from skilled tradespeople and artisans ensures there is a face and a name to go along with the product you are buying.  If there’s a problem with it, if you have a question about it, or sometimes even if you’d like to know how to make it these people are right there for you, happy to help.  Lissa, from Barnacle Bags, posted this amazing salve recipe (part 1, part 2) for her readers, even though it is a product she’ll presumably be selling.  How can she afford to do this?  Well, most of us DIY-ers turned entrepreneurs have the Achilles heel that we’re actually just super-psyched about the things we make, and want others to experience the happiness, too.  Try it next time you’re at a craft fair – ask someone about their method – usually they’ll tell you WAY more than you want to know!  Also, here’s a super-duper tutorial on playing card notebooks from Malaika at Hand-Me-Down Designs:

Playing Card Notebooks by Hand-Me-Down Designs

I get so sad when I am talking to people who are experiencing major holiday anxiety because of the pressures they’re feeling as a result of living up to ‘tradition.’  Like, they’ve married in to a family that is big in to gift-giving but said family is also really in to procreation so people are taking out big loans in December to cover their ‘tradition.’  That’s not a good tradition!  In our house, BIG Christmases were the way to go when we were growing up in the 80’s and 90’s.  However, we’re all adults now, and have shifted our gift-giving traditions to more family and food-oriented ones.  Every year we get together and eat like crazy on Christmas Eve, special foods we don’t normally cook.  On Christmas morning we do a little gift-giving (stretch it out as long as possible!!) and then we watch some kind of family friendly movie and eat some more food + cookies we don’t normally have.  This year we’re going to add-in some song-singing because the little one (she’s 2 1/2) really loves music.  What’s more special than quality time with family?  Definitely not iPads and Xboxes, that’s for sure.

This year, almost everyone’s getting something handmade.  The money I’ve spent on Christmas presents for the whole family won’t exceed $50.00, but the time I’ve spent making everything is probably pushing 40 hours of ‘after work, TV-watching’ time.  While I know not everyone can knit or crochet, everyone has the ability to do something that someone else can’t.

Are you good at fixing cars?  Making cookies?  Babysitting pro bono?  Building bird houses?  Even if you can’t make a THING to give to someone, consider drawing up a nice ‘gift certificate’ for services you can offer your friends and family in the future.  

And, if you’re lucky enough to have enough income in your budget to really go nuts this time of year, showering out the contents of your wallet at local shops and at craft fairs giving directly to the artisan is going to do WAY MORE for your quality of life and the American economy than waiting in next year’s Black Friday lines at 4am.

If I don’t get to the bloggy-blog before the big man is shimmying down the chimney:  MERRY CHRISTMAS, internets!!

Socks Rock

Cat: Totally not impressed with my ballet moves

Ohmygosh – you know what would be a totally great holiday present for someone, man or female, young or old?  Or even just a great present for yourself?  Hand knit socks!  Socks rock.  Click here for the Etsy listing.

When I started knitting socks this summer (summer knitting needs to be small, otherwise forget it in our humid North East) I was like “Hmm, why would people want ‘expensive’ hand knit socks when you can waltz down to target and pick up something pretty similar for 10 or 12 dollars?”

Well.  Here are some reasons:

Subsistence culture.  It’s the new old thing, learning how to make essentials (gardens, hosiery, cooking, etc.) from scratch.  Even if you’re not great with the four needles in the round yourself, at least having something that was made with them is a start!

Comfort, comfort, comfort.  These socks are so warm and so comfy – knit with peruvian worsted wool the fibers are a continues thread of wool, unspun, so there are not a lot of gaps between stitches making these just about the warmest socks that will still comfortably fit in a pair of sneakers.  Sweaty feet?  No problem.  Lanolin in wool naturally wicks away moisture making your feet comfy AND dry throughout the day.  Personally tested, because (TMI) I have super sweaty feet.

Made in the U.S.A.  Don’t you love that?  Our country doesn’t make a lot of things nowadays, and by buying American made you’re strengthening the economy double fold by transferring money and transferring it domestically.

Customizable.  Don’t see the sock height/size/color you want?  Send me a note and you can pretty much get whatever you want at a reasonable price.  I’m only doing solid color socks at present, but be on the lookout for multicolors soon!

More Colors! Let me know if you want something different - I'll see what I can do!

Super Sunday

Socks for Sale!

Yes!  I finally took the pictures I wanted of my favorite new thing to make:  socks!  The above foot warmers are made with 100% Peruvian wool and are SUPER warm.  Don’t worry about sweaty feet, though, because the wool will wick away moisture while keeping your toes warm.  The ankle-high sock is $29, and the high top sock is $34.  Each pair is made to order, and if you have any special requests I am happy to try and accommodate.  Please specify shoe size (or foot length, from back of heel to tip of big toe) for perfect fit (or, if you’re not sure, ‘small’ ‘medium’ or ‘large’).  These will be going up in my Etsy shop before the weekend is up so come check it out!

Delicious Treats Only Take 30 Minutes

I’m excited, because tonight we’re going to Brian and Tara’s house for a fire.  Because I love fire so much, it doubles the fun of hanging out with friends.  I am going to bring my camera and do weird things with it!  I made the brownies above for the event, and because Brian and Tara are in a band called the Rattlesnakes this concoction is now called ‘Rattlesnacks’ in my mind cookbook.  All you really do is add Reese’s peanut butter chips to brownie mix, but sh, don’t tell.  I did these while I was simultaneously making chicken salad/chicken broth – so with a total of maybe one hour in the kitchen I managed to make lunch, a food staple and dessert in one sitting.  Plus I got to wear one of my vintage aprons so… totally worth it.

Lots of bottle caps

Lots of bottle cap work yesterday, today and tomorrow.  See how each of those has a little jump ring in them?  Well.  Each jump ring must have a hole made for it.  Then the hole needs to be sealed after the ring is put in.  Le sigh…

More Socks on the Way

Started this pair to fill the monotony between bottle cap batches.  A typical day goes like this:  come home from work (7am-4pm), throw stuff on a chair, sit on the couch, turn on the Cosmos, lean over bottle caps, every hour take a stretching, sitting up, dry time break and knit.  Eat dinner at some point, bottle caps, knit, repeat.

If you haven’t seen that applications are open for The Big Chill this December 3rd, then you should click on this to download your application now!

I must be manic today.

Music to My Ears… and My Hair.

OK, I’m going to try my hand at being a nice lady to my Etsy shop again.  I fell in to a lull this summer when sales were slumping and the beach was getting warmer and warmer.  But now that the Picnic busy-ness is over, I’m on top of my wholesale order (yet again) and the only real ‘extra’ project I have going on is knitting socks it seems like a pretty good time to start taking pictures again.

Non-sequitur:  I am in need of someone with size 7 feet who would like to trade modeling socks for… a pair of hand knit socks.  I’d need your toes for modeling by mid-September and then I’d have a pair of socks (in your choice of color and calf-length!) ready for you by the beginning of October.

Ok, but now to make sense of this post title:  I experimented with making post earrings with bottle caps before Picnic — this is not something I would wear (I like little posts, big hoops, or super dangly ones) but I’ve noticed a lot of people walking around with the chunky, ‘clip-on’ style earrings so thought I’d give it a go.  It did pretty well!  I sold three pairs at Picnic which was half of my experiment stock.  Here are two listings that will be music to your ears (and hair):

A Pirate Looks Under Starboard - Click on the Image to see listing.

Bass Clef Hair Clip - Click on image for listing.

Packaging “How-To” for Little Businesses

the face of Little Eye. Awww.

I thank my lucky stars every day that Little Eye is still little.  However, what was once a tiny idea unfolding in my notebooks, attic studio and collections is now a little business, experiencing somewhat of an adolescence.  If you can remember (I blocked out most of my teens, too!) this is a time of life fraught with difficulties:  finding your identity, fitting in with others, learning to play by the rules.  After two years of being ‘open for business’ (but not actually, since L.E. only started actually making money this year!) it’s become clear to me something that was missing for a long time:  branding.

There are lots of pieces to branding, but tonight I wanted to write a quick piece about packaging, how to do it, and why it’s so important.

1.  What did you need to start packaging your items?

Hey Audrey, glad you asked!  In order to design packaging you either need a graphic designer and a good chunk of change or, the following:  a logo, a ‘color scheme,’ a font (just one, two TOPS), and a theme.  You’ll also need a working knowledge of some kind of design program – because I’m a photographer, I use Adobe Photoshop but I should totally learn InDesign because that would be way better.  It might also be nice to have a printer with some black ink – color ink, optional, in my most humble of opinions.

Little Eye's general logo

2.  Where did you start?

This fake interview is really silly.  But I’ll answer my question, anyways.  I started off by designing a logo based off the bottle cap shape.  I love the colors red, baby blue and white together so this is my ‘color scheme’ when it’s applicable.  But I hate buying color ink because it’s so expensive and it never looks right, so the color logo (above) is really only used online.  The font in the logo is one that I decided long ago (after flipping through all 500 on my computer) was ‘just right’ for the mood and the mission at Little Eye.  Some rudimentary line drawing and a layer of text and the ‘logo’ was complete.  It should be noted at this point that I’m not 100% happy with it (I would like to change the text around a bit) but if you are futzing with things until you’re 100% happy you might as well start off the whole branding process by turning in an application to the nearest temp agency because you’re not going to get anywhere!  Trust me, I futzed for two years.

3.  Ok, so then what?

I realized that customers were having a hard time picking up/focusing in on my products because it was usually presented in a bin full of bottle cap pins or magnets, which is really fun to root around in for some people but a complete nightmare for others.  I wanted to be able to curate small collections for people, came up with the idea of selling a set of 3 for $5 ($1 off the normal price for 3!) and wanted a nifty way to package it and have some control over what people were seeing.  Enter:  the set of 3 design:

I am proud of this like I think I'll be proud of my firstborn one day

Here’s where we can get down to the composition of the packaging and the elements I definitely wanted (and maybe you’d want?) on a product that people will be taking home and/or giving as a gift.  (A sidenote here:  I’m getting déja vu because I remember reading so many times about how ‘great presentation’ made all the difference when I used to read the Etsy blog.  And I was like ‘Ha ha, whatever, my stuff is so awesome it’ll sell itself,’ …sorry, Etsy, you were right… This time!!)

4.  Awesome!  How’d you put that bad boy together??

First things first.  I sized a new document in Adobe to be slightly smaller than a cellophane bag that I pre-ordered (oodles of!) that would fit the purpose.  Cellophane bags are WICKED important, because it makes customers feel like they can pick things up and look at them instead of admire them from about 3 feet away.  That’s no good for the bottle caps OR my bank account…

The header at the top is a revamped version of the logo – because I have my business information below I can use the ‘bottle cap’ corona to frame the product.  That way when someone picks it up and says “Hey, cool, bottle caps with pictures in them!” they’ll also be able to read that they are pins, as well.  You don’t know it yet, but you can’t actually tell they’re pins from the packaging.  Because I am sneaky… you’ll see.

Underneath the corona you’ll see three shaded lines – these are my guidelines for cutting slices in the paper once the packaging is printed so that the pin backs will fit snugly through the paper.  They don’t show up in the final product.

Beneath I felt like I wanted to have a little more information than my business name and web address (you should always have these on your packaging!!)  Because I’ve been pushing custom orders lately I included a little note about how to get in touch if someone is interested.  I get a lot of inquiries about custom work at craft shows, but never have cards to hand out.  This solves both of those problems!

I surrounded the whole thing in a black border, which is part of my ‘look’ that I hope signals people to recognize my products wherever they are shopping.

5.  Tell me more.

Demanding!  Ok, the last bit I’ll jump ahead to – I ran in to the issue of the pin backs showing through and created a companion piece to go on the back of the packaging for a finished look.  It is kind of fluffy, doesn’t have a lot of ‘selling’ info, but I think it is a nice finish for a customer who appreciates details.

Now, here are some nice pictures to show you:

Printed and Cut Fronts and Backs for Set of 3 Pin Packaging

Fastened Pins

Here’s a picture of how the pins poke through the back of the front card.  I make a barbell-shaped slit with an exacto knife for each slit and push the pins through, then fasten them with scotch tape to make sure that the pins don’t get unsettled when I lug them around to shops/craft fairs.  But it’s kinda yucky looking, so I finished the back off like this:

Message on Back, Complete in Cellophane Bag

Each set of 3 has a slightly different color combination of the paper used for the front piece and the paper used for the insert on the back.  This insert is wide enough to cover the pins but narrow enough so you get a nice contrast of colors on the back!  Little Eye is kind of a playful line, so I love that I can print on whatever color paper I have available and then put them together and see what kind of chromatic magic happens.

Here are some sets that I’ve put together in the last couple of days.  I’m really loving picking and choosing the pins for people who may not have the time to sort through bins of pins.  Hoping to have packaging for magnets, and ‘six packs’ (get it?  bottle caps? huh? huh?) ready for the holiday season along with some hand knit accessories and maybe some screen printed kid’s clothes, as well.  Busy busy busy.  Enjoy:

Summer Months Set

Lyrics and Clefs

Photography Love!

 If you are without Photoshop knowledge, a printer, time, ink, or any of the above it’s probably definitely worth your while to make a list of your products that need packaging and sit down with a graphic designer.  They can make something really snazzy for you that you can potentially order on your own once the designs are completed.  It’s a lot of work and I have yet to see how these do ‘on the field’ but I just know they make my product look ten times better than it already is.

Consequently!  If you are looking to conceptualize packaging, need someone to bounce ideas off of, or would like someone to take the reins and do it for you – there’s nothing I know how to do that can’t be bought or sold.  So if you just read all this and are like “Yeah, like I’m going to do that!” (like I used to say!) but really would “like to do that” then let me know – maybe we can work something out!  I’ve been working on packaging and labels for my pins, barrettes, earrings, vintage and more this week – it’s actually a lot of fun, in a totally dorky sort of way.

OK – midnight and I’ve got about two more hours of work ahead of me… Audrey, out!