Warning: Extreme Cuteness Ahead!

For his birthday (Jan. 6), I wanted to make Richard something penguin-ish, and I wanted to needle felt it. I thought about the penguins we saw in Antarctica and went through my photos for some inspiration. Sometimes when penguins come out of the water, they sit on the beach or perch on a rock which makes them look even rounder. I decided to use these little guys as my models:



And this is the result:



Here it is with a penny for scale:



The hardest parts were the little white patch on the top of its head (this is a Gentoo penguin after all!) and the eyes. Each eye consists of the tiniest bit of white wool — literally just a few fibers. I had to cheat on the beak; I used a black magic marker to darken the top edge. That’s about as much detail as I could manage. I think it turned out pretty cute, and Richard really likes it.


And by the way, we’re planning to revisit our little black-and-white friends in February 2015. We’ve booked a cabin on the Akademik Ioffe. Can’t wait!




RIP Thisby

If you are a regular at Needlework Paradise, then you knew our little Greeter — my dog Thisby. Sadly, Thisby passed away last Wednesday. She had been experiencing some physical problems, most notably very labored breathing and some loss of balance. Our vet believes that the various symptoms were likely due to a brain tumor. Thisby was almost 13, and in the 12-plus years that she was with Richard and me, we took her on many vacations and had lots of adventures. You may recall pictures on the old blog of Thisby kayaking; she was a good little hiker too. Of course, we knew we wouldn’t have her forever, but we didn’t think we would lose her quite so soon. In my experience, when little animals start to go, they go fast. I don’t think Thisby suffered much or for very long, if at all. Now the house (and the shop) seems very empty without her; I keep expecting to see her every time I turn around. She was the sweetest little dog, and we miss her very much. I’m keeping plenty of tissues in my pockets!

Here is a recent photo of Thisby napping with her Squishable corgi toy:


A Bit of Philosophy

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting for so long. I’ve been quite busy with various projects including preparing for a lace knitting class (six sessions and three projects — all my own designs) that will start early in January. I also have several gifts I’m trying to finish up or have yet to start….

This is the time of year for craft fairs, and that means it’s time for me to wax philosophic on the subject of selling handmade items. Most of you have probably heard me get up on my soapbox when it comes to this topic, but I think it’s important to reiterate.

A customer came into the shop last week with a large crocheted afghan that she wants to sell. She asked me to tell her how much to charge. Well, the first words out of my mouth were along the lines of ”I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” I said that she had to decide how much it was worth based on how much time she spent on it, how much she thinks her time is worth, and the cost of the materials. She said that if she did that, she would have to charge $300, and added that no one would pay that much. My response was that that is the problem we face when we make things to sell. We have to balance what the item is actually worth with how much we think someone will be willing to pay for it.

For a while, I had an article on our shop bulletin board from Sally Melville’s blog. In it, she suggests (and I agree wholeheartedly) that when we sell a handmade item for a pittance, we devalue not only what we do, but what others do as well. I hate to go to a craft fair and see people selling things for just a few dollars. Is that all that they think their time and skills are worth? What does this say to the general public? Not much in our throw-away society is handmade these days, and I think that most people are unaware of how much time and effort go into making things by hand. They have come to think that everything should be priced as if it were made in a third world sweatshop where people work for 50 cents a day.

So…how can we change people’s minds? How about this for starters: if you go to a craft fair and see some item that is obviously priced way below its real value, ask the maker how long it took to make. And then ask, “how can you sell it for only [insert price here] if it took [however many] hours?” Or say something like, “it seems like the yarn alone would cost more than that!” Just get people thinking. And if you are planning to sell your own work, charge a fair price! Fair to you, that is. If anyone questions you about the price or tries to bargain, set them straight. Educate them.

It’s curious that handmade items in certain genres, e.g., woodworking or metalworking, can command pretty high prices (like $45 or so for a cutting board!), and yet the fberarts do not. What’s going on there? I have a good idea, but that discussion is beyond the scope of this post.

Of course, there are many crafters who just like to make and sell things and don’t really care how much they get for them — it’s just a way to pass the time. And that’s fine EXCEPT that it tells others that those products and skills are not worth much — it devalues what we all do.

By the way, we got a new supply of the Interlacements beaded scarf kits — some really gorgeous colors! Start thinking about your gift list — or give one to yourself!

Just in…

A couple of weeks ago, we got a shipping notice from Berroco regarding a recent order. The weight was given as 168 pounds! Now of course, a small portion of that consisted of the boxes themselves, but the vast majority was YARN!!!!! Finding space for it was a challenge, but somehow we always manage to make room for the new stuff. We got several colors of Ultra Alpaca in all weights, Peruvia, Vintage and Vintage DK, Lodge, Lustra, Remix, Comfort and Comfort DK, Boboli Lace (more of a sport weight really) and probably others that I’m forgetting at the moment. All of it wonderful!

We also got a shipment from Mountain Meadows. The shelves where we display it were starting to get rather bare, but now they are packed full of yarn. Most of this order consisted of the “Cody” sport-weight yarn in semi-solid and variegated colorways and the “Dubois” fingering weight in semi-solids. There are some new colors in both yarns. These minimally-processed yarns are among my favorites (and Linda’s too) and have been very popular with tourists — they love getting a real Wyoming souvenir!

There is so much new stuff that I’m not even going to try to include photographs — you’ll just have to come down and see it for yourself. And there is more on the way!