Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SweetShop Adventures; Dongdaemun Market

Greetings SweetShoppers! It's been a while since I've posted, but the weather here in Korea is cooling down so I find myself with more time and less humidity on my hands--perfect for crafting and blogging about crafting. One of the biggest crafting challenges I've found since I've come to Korea this year is finding a reliable, inexpensive source of crafting supplies.

For example, there's a cute little yarn shop near my house with some gorgeous yarn on display. The proprietor is a cute little old lady and one of the fastest knitters I've ever seen--the shop windows are full of display mannequins wearing her work. Imagine my surprise when I went in there, armed with my best travel Korean and...

Me: (in broken, halting Korean; pointing at a skein of Red Heart Chunky) How much is this?
Cute Old Knitter: 20,000 won. (About 18 USD)
Me: HOW much??!!!
Cute Old Knitter: 20,000 won. Cheap, isn't it?

Sweetshoppers, you know me. I don't pay $18 for a skein of acrylic yarn. I don't pay $18 for a skein of cashmere yarn, if I can help it. And I know you. If you ever come to Korea, there is no reason YOU should pay $18 for a skein of acrylic yarn. So when some kind people from the Gangnam Stitchers group offered to show me around the famed Dongdaemun markets, where bargains and variety abound, I gladly took them up on it.

So, what is Dongdaemun like? Well...they say a picture is worth a thousand words...

The possibilities were endless...
That, SweetShoppers, is ONE stall out of hundreds in the market. Armed with only my smartphone camera, I couldn't really get a picture that captured the sheer scope of the market, but imagine several hundred of the above, spread out over a city block in a basement full of other amazing things. The best part? Those balls of cotton/acrylic blend yarn you see in that photo were only 3,000 won($2.75 USD) each.

So, what is Dongdaemun, anyway?
To give you a little bit of context, Dongdaemun(pronounced DOHNG-day-moon) Market is a 10 block area of Seoul that contains 25 shopping malls, countless independent market stalls and shops, and over 50,000 manufacturers. All in all there's over 30,000 shops, so depending on your preferences, it probably sounds like either paradise or hell. Dongdaemun is known for its clothes, textiles, crafting supplies and the nearby Gwangjang market has plenty of nooks and crannies full of deliciously kooky street food to satisfy you after your shop-a-thon.  Historically speaking the area is one of several --daemuns, including the more famous Namdaemun--"daemun" means gate, and there are eight famous gates in Seoul that were part of the old fortress wall. The market portion of the Dongdaemun area is a fairly recent addition to the Seoul cityscape, having been in existence in one form or another since 1905. After being burnt down, rebuilt, renovated and rebranded it's now one of the major tourist attractions and cultural focal points of Seoul, and I'd highly recommend a visit even if you're not a major crafter or shopper. If anything, the night market--which is exactly what it sounds like--is worth a touristy visit. 
If you're in the Seoul area, and want to go to Dongdaemun, it's conveniently located on subway lines 1 and 4. Simply get out at Dongdaemun Station and follow the signs.

Okay, enough with the history lecture...what did you see there?

Too much. Honestly, the Dongdaemun experience was a little overwhelming for me. We're talking a whole city block packed with hundreds of small stalls packed with millions of skeins and hanks and balls of yarn and their accompanying salesmen(and saleswomen.) To be honest, I only took a few pictures and I bought almost nothing because after years of buying at small independent retailers and online--it was all a little too much for me.

That said, I did have a good time seeing just how much yarn there is in the world. A lot of the stall owners are crafters themselves and proudly showed off the things they'd made from their own yarn. I took a few pictures of the things they had on display. 
The monkey was my favorite...
The one thing I DID buy was buttons...I'm making a cream colored button up cardigan for this year and it needs a classy understated button...believe it or not, I found the perfect ones here...

I spent about $1.50 on some beautiful wooden buttons from this stall...but the selection was, frankly staggering. And there were about 50 other stalls with a similar selection of things. 

Like most market stall owners I've run across in my travels, this lady wasn't too crazy about having pictures taken of her or her wares, so I could only sneak this blurry one. This was the case with most of the vendors I met on that day, which explains the poor images in this blog.(Doesn't excuse them, just explains...) I've found that that is often the case in ANY big market, ANYWHERE, and I really wonder why. At least at Dongdaemun people tell you to put away your camera with a the Halės market in VIlnius, Lithuania, a large lady with a frown tried to snatch my camera and probably would have smashed it had I not scampered away and shown her(from a safe distance) that I was putting it away. I wonder why that is the case--do any of you know why market vendors hate photographers so much?

Also, I've noticed a curious crochet and knit trend here in Korea--skirts. Everywhere I go I see yarn skirts being made or displayed, but I have yet to see anyone wearing one. This has kept me from making one for myself, but when I see gorgeous ones like this on display, I do wonder what it would look like on...

In any case, Dongdaemun Market--the craft section anyway--was equal parts awesome, inspiring, overwhelming and exhausting. I spent about four hours there and that was ONLY in the craft section--I didn't get to look at any of the other million things for sale in the area. After buying my buttons in awe, I wandered over to Gwangjang market and ate a delicious bindaetteok to recover. I'll definitely go back again, and buy more things, and I reccommend it for hard core bargain crafters like myself, yarnaholic visitors to Korea, and just about anybody who wants a fun, colorful, crowded day out with no idea what you might get into.

Peace, beautiful people!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SweetShop Adventure; Gangnam Stitchers meetup!

Excuse me while I blow the dust off this blog, beautiful people...


Okay, so yeah. Your friendly neighborhood patternista has moved to a whole different in South Korea. It's *definitely* an adventure. I've only been here for a little over a month so I don't have loads to say about the experience yet but I WILL say that I have missed crafting and crafty spaces. In my area there don't seem to be a lot of those things.

Being the yarnaholic that I am, I hied myself hence to and typed "yarn" and "Seoul" into the search engine.

A week later I was sitting in a Starbucks in Gangnam working on this...
What that is, exactly, is still tbd.  

You may have heard of Gangnam...I hear there's a song about it...

The meetup was great--met some cool people, including a 60-ish Korean lady who learned to crochet in high school, loves Elvis, and has traveled all over the world and a lovely lady from Preston who is an artist and a pretty good knitter! 

I didn't take many pictures and because I've just met the Gangnam Stitchers I don't have a lot to say yet. But trust, I'll be going back soon! I plan on heading to Dongdaemun markets and checking out the yarn market as well...but in the meanwhile, I just wanted to do a quick post to let you all know that yes, I'm alive and still crafting. Stay tuned for East Asian yarn shenanigans in the future.


Monday, January 28, 2013

SweetShop Links; Asoratti's Feature Friday

Hey SweetShoppers!

I didn't have a chance to interview anyone new for this week and the SweetShop Adventure I had planned was sadly, postponed. However, I got a lovely surprise on Friday--my good friend Esra of Asoratti interviewed me for her weekly Feature Friday!

Check out the interview HERE to find out a little bit about my inspirations and what I'm up to these days. Many thanks to Esra for the interview!

Peace, beautiful people!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Not About Yarn: Maintaining Motivation

Sweetshoppers, I got nothin'.

This has been me, all week.

If motivation was air, I'd have suffocated somewhere back around Tuesday.This week has been crazy rough, and I find myself dragging behind all of the many challenges and disappointments life has brought my way in 7 short days. I'm a little depressed and grumpy, and the last thing I want to do is pick up a ball of yarn, let alone grind away at any of my other jobs. 

Life is full of ups and downs, of course, and I've lived enough of it to know that things will get better, usually quicker and better than I think. As a result, I find myself thinking of strategies to motivate myself so that I don't lose any ground gained while I'm in a bit of a slump. 

That said, SweetShoppers, here are my 5 tips on how to maintain motivation;

1. Don't stay in the same state that is draining you. In other words, don't stay mad/sad/disappointed/tired. Get some sleep, blow off some steam, cry, yell, do whatever you need to do to get past the emotional state that is draining your mojo. For me, resolving things emotionally is the first step in being able to reach a logical resolution for a situation or state of being that is causing me to drag.   
For example, I've had to deal with a VERY frustrating professional situation this week. Without giving too many details, I was unexpectedly put in a situation that resulted in major loss of expected income and I'm going to have to really scramble to make up the gap over the next month or so.
Things like this happen in business all of the time, but I think what infuriated me is that I didn't do anything wrong.  I crossed all of my t's, dotted all of my i's, and as a result of someone else's poor ethics, was left holding the (very expensive) bag.
So how to deal in a way that keeps me going, rather than drags me down?
First I did this; 

Then I did this;  

And then I kept it moving. The last step is the most crucial one. Do whatever you have to do to get past the emotions of the moment or that time and move on.
Which brings us to...

2. Do something else. If you're not motivated to do something, don't force yourself to do it--but do force yourself to do something else. By that I don't mean talk yourself into sitting on the couch watching reruns of Maury, either. I mean do something, something productive, whether it's clean out that junk drawer, take a job, call a friend, write a letter--do something. Make yourself do something productive, even if it's not your highest priority item, and then return to what it was that you were supposed to do. Sometimes you need the distraction of another accomplishment to pump you up and bring you back to your original goal. 

3. Don't be afraid to relax a little bit. Sometimes, a lack of motivation is how our brain and body tell us that it's time to crank things into a lower gear for a little while. So, if doing something different isn't helping, go ahead and kick back for a bit. Set a timer or an alarm and do a whole lot of nothing for an hour, or longer if you can. Take a day and drive to the mountains or the lake. Watch that Netflix movie that's been gathering dust on top of your TV. Learn that new random thing you've always been meaning to. Go out for coffee. Sit around in your pajamas and play a video game. Do whatever it is you want to do, and don't feel guilty. Your batteries might need recharging and that's okay. But once they've recharged...

4.Do the hustle!

Okay, maybe not THAT hustle. You've let off steam, reorganized all your kitchen cabinets and watched three seasons of Mad Men without a break, but you STILL can't pick up your hooks, needles, or laptop without wanting to disintegrate into a puddle of sloth. Maybe this means it's time to be creative. Do what I learned from a particularly talented older relative and hustle.  Get creative. If you're used to doing all of your selling from behind a laptop, get up and walk your product into shops. If you usually type out sixteen invoices and solicit four new clients every day like clockwork--change it up. Add something new, go somewhere new, get your face into a place it's never been before and bring your business with it. Don't forget that you are awesome, you are professional, and you are worth being paid for your work--but only IF you do it! So instead of holding to the pressures of your regular schedule, feel free to add in all of those new ideas that you've been holding back on because of routine and see if you can redevelop that routine in new and different ways. You have nothing to lose, everything to gain, and you can always accomplish more if you are able to allow yourself to do so.
And if, at the end of the day, none of this helps...

5. Just do it anyway. Sometimes, beautiful people, there's nothing to it but to do it. All of the motivational tactics and techniques in the world won't pull you out of a slump so you simply have to get up, put on your big girl panties, and just do it. Some of my best work has come out of periods where I was just grinding through, making myself work even though my heart wasn't in it, let alone my mind or body. Some of my WORST work has come out of those periods too, but if life is a race, the winners are the ones who keep running, not the ones who run the best but quit two feet from the finish line because it got hard. Sometimes things will be difficult, but you have to keep going if you ever want them to be better. Work hard with what you have, live to the fullest of your ability, and don't give up. You'll look back on these days and feel good that you made it through some day.

At least, that's what I tell myself, anyway. :-)

Peace, beautiful people!! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SweetShop Update; 2013 goals and stuff...

Morning SweetShoppers! (Or afternoon, evening...whatever it is where you are, I wish you a good one.)

Earrings samples! Don't tell anyone, but they're stuck in my sweater for this photo...
So all of those earrings and sample earrings from this post have finally been strung onto stainless steel posts and sewn into shape, wonder of wonders. Miracle of miracles, some of them are even available for sale in my etsy shop HERE.

Yeah, the shop...about that...

So I've been talking up the relaunch of my etsy shop for awhile now, and I genuinely had a brand new concepts and designs and so on thought up. This week was my week to work on it, and I had all kinds of tasks in my queue--a new banner, a new logo, lots of professional standard photos, and so on...

And then yesterday, as I began to redesign things, I thought to myself...


SweetShoppers, I have become a victim of doing too much. I'm doing so much, I think I'm officially doing THREE much at this point. One of the things that has suffered from my constant business is my etsy shop. I just don't have the time to make the stock and do the ever-important promotional work of running this business online properly. What I DO have time for, and what I find myself having a lot of fun doing, is blogging, writing patterns, and giving time and writing space to other crafters. For a long time I've thought of writing a pattern book and thinking through the steps of becoming a craft brand that *isn't* based on the hats that I can personally create, and I think now is the time to begin doing that.

So I think I'm going to.

There will always be some items available in the etsy shop--I love having that platform and the interactions it opens up to me. (The money's nice too, when it comes in. :-)) There will always be a donation made from the proceeds of the site to a charity that supports sustainable economic and educational development.

But that's not going to be my main focus anymore.

There is also the little matter of me moving to South Korea in a little over a month. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around the shipping costs involved there, and I'm not too sure of the legalities involved yet either. Add to that my first full-time English teaching job in...well, EVER and I'm pretty sure that crochet is going to be an extreme hobby for a little while. I have a language to learn, traveling to do and students to meet! recap...sales;not a priority anymore. Patterns, blogging, interviews; a new priority. Me; busy. You; hopefully continuing to visit the blog.

Stay tuned for a pattern post either Friday or Saturday, beautiful people. And, as always, thank you so much for your visits, your comments, and your purchases!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SweetShop Studio; Learning the bullion stitch/roll stitch

The first thing I'd like to say today, SweetShoppers, is that "bullion" is a really difficult word to type correctly.


Okay, now that that's out of my system, let's get into today's topic. Occasionally I'll get the urge to expand my encyclopedia of crochet stitches beyond the big five(slip, chain, single, double, triple) and learn something completely new to spice up my designs a bit.

With that in mind, I found this video from Margaret Hubert Originals the other day;
How cute is she? Her accent reminds me of visits to the East Coast, and I love the bit at the end when she tells the cameraman they're going to pick up background noise. (They are, but I wouldn't have noticed...)

The bullion stitch, also known as the roll stitch, looks pretty cool to me, so I decided to try it out...first things first, I made up a swatch.

That's a few double crochet stitches made with a 5.0 mm(H) hook, and some unfortunately anonymous coral light worsted weight acrylic yarn that I've had for a while and lost the label. It's a pretty color, isn't it?

Here we have our complete test swatch. Please ignore the wonky right edge, I was in a hurry to try the new stitch and didn't bother making it even. Overall, you have 12 chain stitches, 10 dc, turn, 2 dc, 1 ch, 2dc repeated until the last 3 stitches which were all dc, then a row of dc in each dc and ch 1 space.

If that reads like Greek to you, don't worry. Basically I just whipped up a quick, small block of stitches in order to test out making a bullion stitch on top of them, like in the video.

Now to try the stitch...first of all, I realized that in the video she doesn't teach how to start a row of bullion stitches. To find that out, I had to go here and read a tutorial using a very different technique that results in a very different looking stitch than the one in the vid.. Anyway, from that link I got an idea of using 2 chain stitches as a substitute for my first stitch and working my first bullion stitch into the second double crochet.

Still with me? Okay. So, I followed the instructions in the video above and...

Um, no. Apologies for the blurry photo, but at least you can see, that is not about to be a bullion stitch. A hot mess stitch, maybe, but no bullion in sight. In the video Ms. Hubert whips the yarn over, under, around and through like it's no big deal but I couldn't come even close to that on my first few tries. I looked at a few other reference guides on and off line as well, some of which suggested using items like knitting needles and pencils as a placeholder to help form the stitch.

Knitting needles? Pencils?

So I kept trying the technique in the Hubert video...and kept looking...and finally stumbled across this excellent tutorial(which is inexplicably part of a natural healing site). From that I got two crucial tips--1)wrap the yarn less times to start with and 2)if you can't pull the hook through all the loops at once, simply pull through one at a time. At least to start with. 

Ok, SweetShoppers. Armed with my newfound knowledge, I tried again, wrapping only 5 times and pulling through each loop one at a time...

Victory is mine!!!

I started feeling fancy and did three in the same stitch. The one in the center is wrapped 7 times instead of 5, making a taller stitch.

One thing I learned through my own trial and error--it's better to wrap the yarn coming towards you, not away.. It's much easier to pull the hook through the loops that way.

After trying a half-dozen bullion stitches of varying sizes, I decided I would try the epic 10-wrap stitch from the video at the start...

Ta-da! There's three, into the same double crochet stitch. I think I can see the advantages of creating the stitch in a way that allows you to pull the yarn through all of the loops at the same time--it looks like you probably get a taller, longer stitch. But these little puffy guys are fun too.

So there you have it SweetShoppers...the bullion stitch. A few things I learned from my little experiment...

  • Wrap the yarn towards you, not away from you, for the easiest stitch.
  • If you can hold the yarn and slide the hook through in one go like Margaret Hubert, I bow in your general direction. If you can't(and I can't...yet), simply pull through a few loops at a time until you get them all off the hook.
  • Don't forget to end each bullion/roll stitch with a chain stitch to "lock" the stitch. That makes it much easier to build on top of those stitches and keeps the stitch in a nice, neat shape as you continue to create fabric. 
I'm off to create a pattern using this funky new stitch, beautiful people! Let me know in the comments what kinds of things *you* create using it. Peace!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SweetShop Adventures; The Denver Crochet Guild, Yarn Shoppe Studio and Bags By CAB

Happy Monday SweetShoppers!!

So hopefully I've gotten you used to checking here on a Monday morning to find out about some of the excellent Crafters I Admire (otherwise known as the Sweetshop C.I.A--I'm going to keep saying that until it catches on, ok?). Since it's a new year and my pattern-writing experiment seems to be going horribly awry, I thought I'd try another new idea and start featuring some cool crafty places and gatherings here on the blog in addition to interviews.

My first stop was the Denver Crochet Guild, held at the lovely Yarn Shoppe Studio in downtown Denver.
The first thing you see when entering the Yarn Shoppe, 17th and Larimer, Denver,CO
Okay, first of all fellow yarn addictscrafters, feast your eyes on this lovely display. When I first visited The Yarn Shoppe Studio, my first thought was that it seemed very unassuming for such a splashy location (it's one block away from the 16th Street Mall in the heart of downtown Denver--very easy to find). The window displays are gorgeous, but the shop itself is in the corner of a larger building and didn't catch my eye the first time I walked past it. However, once I walked in, everything changed.
More cozy yarn space at 1777 Larimer Street
How did I miss this? I have spent a LOT of time in and out of specialty yarn shops, beautiful people, and I can honestly say that The Yarn Shoppe Studio is one of the coziest, most welcoming shops I've ever visited. It just has a very warm, friendly feel to it which I appreciate as a perpetually browsing, curious crafter. 

If you take a closer look at the second photo, you'll notice that the Yarn Shoppe is not only a specialty yarn store. It also has a very diverse selection of local handcrafted goods by local designers and  racks of vintage clothing and bags provided by Fafa's Genuine Designer and Vintage Handbags. For those who need help finding out how to use all that gorgeous yarn, the shop also provides classes, workshops, and one-on-one tutorial sessions for beginner to expert crafters. For those trying to make their crafting passion into a business, the shop owner provides all sorts of business workshops, marketing assistance, website design and business services for a fee. 

Aaaaand the shop also repairs knitwear(the first time I've ever seen that service offered by a yarn shop), hosts events, and is the meeting place for local craft gatherings like the Denver Crochet Guild(which I'll chat about in a moment...)

As you can see, the Yarn Shoppe provides a lot of really diverse services and serves a pretty diverse population. All of that is due to this lady right here...
Cassandra Allen-Brown, owner of the Yarn Shoppe and Bags By Cab, wearing one of her own scarves
This lovely lady is Cassandra Allen-Brown, who owns the Yarn Shoppe, is the owner and designer of handmade knitwear brand Bags By Cab, and the president of the local chapter of the Denver Crochet Guild as well. I strongly suggest you check out the website link to get an idea of the full scope of Cassandra's hard work and talent, but she's truly a force to be reckoned with in the Denver crafting scene. I met her a few months ago when I first began my brief Denver sojourn, and I really admire her work ethic and capability to multi-task. The fact that she offers so much and still manages to support other crafters and give something back to the community is truly impressive.  

Now to talk a bit about the Denver Crochet Guild. Essentially, the group is the local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America, a national organization that spearheads crochet groups, provides professional crochet certification, and publishes some pretty cool patterns and publications. I became aware of the national organization awhile ago when thinking of pursuing a professional crochet certificate. (I may write more about that experience on a later date) but due to my generally transient, intercontinental lifestyle, I never thought to look up a local chapter. I feel a bit sorry that it's taken me so long to do so.

The Denver guild is an assortment of lovely, friendly ladies who meet once a month and crochet. Some of them are professional crafters, some are hobby crafters and some are brand new beginners looking to brush up their skills. All of them are creative and encouraging, and if you're in the Denver area and are looking for a group of people to crochet with, I strongly suggest you give them a visit. (You can find out the next few dates and times by visiting their meetup page HERE.) There's a few large scale yearly events that the Guild (and by extension, the Yarn Shoppe) host, like Yarn Along The Rockies, but they also crochet baby blankets for  Denver Health's neonatal unit and have a good time chatting about whatever's on everyone's hooks that day.

Kim, working on an afghan from a vintage pattern
As you can see, I could write endlessly about the myriad projects and talents of the guild, but because you and I both know this blog is getting a bit long, I'm going to finish by telling you a bit about some of the people involved.

First of all, I had a big surprise waiting for me when I walked into the area of the shop where the guild was busy crafting...

This lovely lady is Kim. We went to the same small rural college a decade or so ago, and haven't seen each other since. It was a lovely surprise to see her there and catch up, and also to find out she was a fellow yarn crafter!( I guess that isn't the kind of information you really share in a college dorm...) In the picture, she's working on a lovely stripy afghan--the pattern for which she reverse-engineered by studying an old vintage afghan. How cool is that?  Kim also showed some pics of some really cool hats and flags she's made with the Colorado state symbol on them.

I didn't get to take a very good picture of Rita, but I want to shout her out briefly here. She was absolutely lovely and should get the title of Guild greeter! I noticed she went around speaking to everyone and encouraging them, and she was one of the main reasons I personally felt so welcome at the event. Thanks Rita!!

I did manage to get a picture of these two ladies,the lovely Pam and Dorothy. Dorothy(who made that flowery scarf she's wearing herself) is the designer of Crochet Chameleon, a very pretty line including a lot of babywear and some intricate adult pieces such as the one she's wearing. Her daughter, Erika(who I also didn't get a good picture of -sad face-) is in charge of The Colorful Crafter, which features all kinds of funky colors and textures. Erika is a riot and a proud "lupus warrior"--please check out her and her mother's craft sites.

Please, SweetShoppers, check out these ladies work either in person at the shop or via their websites. Hopefully, I'll be featuring a few of them in future Monday interviews as well. That said, if there is one person I met that day who I will gladly chase to the ends of the earth to get an interview if I have to, it's this lady here; 
Marie of Wild Woman Designs
This is the lovely Marie Nevels of Wild Woman Designs, holding one of her original metal-free crochet jewelry designs. Yes, you read that right, crochet jewelry. I love it. She also makes a variety of blankets, scarves, baby clothes and so on. Marie is one of those people who is so instantly welcoming and inspiring that you immediately want to know more about her and what she does--definitely expect to see a feature on her and her work in the future. (Marie, if you're reading this...pretty please?) 

There were quite a few other people at the guild meeting but I only got a chance to really talk to these few. I will be going back next month before I head back across the waters, so hopefully I'll get to meet some new people and perhaps shout them out as well. In any case, I hope that those of you in the Denver area will head to the Yarn Shoppe and get involved, either by buying products from the very talented group of crafters who display their work there, soliciting Cassandra's services as a business consultant, or grabbing a hook and some yarn and joining in with some of the Guild's efforts.

To visit the Yarn Shoppe Studio, Bags By CAB, and see other local handmade knitwear displayed, visit in person at;

1777 Larimer Street, St 102
Denver, CO 
(one block away from the 16th Street Mall) 

You can also visit the website for the shop and Cassandra's personal brand at, or add them on Facebook HERE.

To find out more about the Denver Crochet Guild, visit their blog at or search for them on

To visit any of the other crafters mentioned here, check out the following links;  

All of these ladies also have their wares on display at the Yarn Shoppe 

If any other members of the guild or exhibitors at the Yarn Shoppe come across this, I apologize for omitting you - feel free to add your links in the comment section and I'll put them in a future post. 

Whew! A lot of information today, beautiful people, but I hope you found it interesting! Hope some Denver Metro crafters find their way into the shop or to a guild meeting soon! 

Peace beautiful people!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Making earrings today...

Time it takes to crochet one curly earring; approximately 5 minutes.
Time it takes to thread earring on post and sew into shape; approximately 30 minutes.

WHY do I do this to myself? Arrrrghhhh...

Peace, love, and finger cramps beautiful people...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kia from Chocolate Cherri Bomb Art; A SweetShop interview!

Happy Monday morning,  Sweetshoppers! For many of us, it’s the first week back after the new year, so Happy New Year to everyone as well. To get our crafty year started off right, we’re featuring yet another member of the SweetShop C.I.A (C.rafters I. A.dmire) here on the blog…the one and only Kia Beech of Chocolate Cherri Bomb Art!
This is Kia! You can buy that hat HERE.

I first became aware of Kia because we’re both members of  Etsy Artists of Color, but I started getting to know her a bit because she won a giveaway that I hosted way back when. Unfortunately, the giveaway went a bit wonky and the prize package got lost in the mail and I wound up having to send another pair of earrings out. Kia was extremely gracious about the process though, and I was so impressed by how understanding she was that I made a point of paying attention to her crafting skills and sites more closely.

I have to say, I’m glad I did. Kia is one of those rare and gifted omni-crafters—she does a little bit of everything, from painting to crocheting to jewelry-making and beyond—and she does it well. She’s a young, passionate crafter and I really love seeing the diversity of her creative output.

So, that said, let’s find out a little about Chocolate Cherri Bomb Art from Kia herself!!

Let's start with a really basic question today...who are you? Meaning, what's your name and your company's name? How did you pick that name? Tell me a little about yourself, how you got started and what you're up to now.
Well, my name is Kia Beech, and my company name is Chocolate Cherri Bomb. Under the company name I have different names for the different things I make! For instance, my body care is labeled Brown Honey B's (since I use honey in EVERYTHING for the body and my last name begins with a B) and my jewelry is labeled Thundering Rain. I came up with Chocolate Cherri Bomb back in high school. There was a store in the area where I loved to hang out called Cherry Bomb. I liked how powerful and little cherry bombs were, and I'm chocolate, so... that's how it started! 

I started crafting when I was little. I always loved to make things. I remember being five and making plastic bead jewelry for people! My father painted and did photography, so he began giving me pointers when I decided I wanted to try it out around age 12. I really got started in my teenage years because I hated spending money on things I felt I could craft myself. So I began making jewelry, crocheting, taking photos, and painting and others loved it, so I turned it into a business.

I still make things when I can, but I am now a new full-time labor and delivery nurse. So my art life is my second "job", but it's what I've always loved.

Wow, it sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. One of the things that fascinates me about you is that you are skilled at so many different types of craft. How did you get started doing all of these things? Do you have a favorite? And do you feel like your skills influence each other? you sometimes paint using something you learned while crocheting as an inspiration, for example?

So many different things! Lets see...
"Love Is A Stronghold"; original painting by Kia Beech/Chocolate Cherri Bomb Art. Purchase HERE.

Painting; I was inspired to start by my dad, as I mentioned. But I didn't start hardcore painting until I went to college. I went through a rough breakup and someone suggested that I return to painting to channel the emotions. Ever since then, there was no going back. I paint from emotion, and also a lot of African American love inspires my work. My paintings are probably what I enjoy creating the most because so much of ME is in each piece. But it can be stressful getting it JUST right. 
Handmade beaded necklace; purchase HERE

Jewelry; I just love jewelry! It's my weakness! I love having something pretty adorn my wrists and neck, and I like sharing it with others. It's probably my second favorite to create and sell because its the fastest, and I buy everyone else's jewelry and rarely wear my own! Most of my jewelry is inspired by color, and certain stones and their metaphysical properties. I research what each stone is said to inspire and I incorporate that into each piece.

One of my favorite photography pieces by Chocolate Cherri Bomb.
Buy it in a set of three prints HERE.
Photography; I always had a camera. I looove to take pictures of everything! There's really no story behind that one... Dad just gave me a camera and I've been taking photos (nature and landscapes) ever since.

Crochet and knit; I like being warm and cozy, and being able to rock a hat in any color I choose if I give it just a few hours. Although I think the yarn work is stunning when finished, it is my least favorite to complete because its so time consuming and very taxing on my hands and wrists. 
The very creative Sweet Butter Grits exfoliator! Purchase HERE

Body care; This was inspired by my hatred for preservative and chemical-laden body products and not being able to find ANYTHING to work on my acne. I just went to the kitchen one day and began mixing ingredients, and after much trial and error, I got a pretty good handle on some products!

They don't really influence each other, but they are all inspired by something.

It sounds like your dad has been a big inspiration in your crafting life. Who are some of your other crafty inspirations and teachers?
One of my biggest painting inspirations is Christie Grant, a wonderful local artist who has so much vision and power behind each of her pieces. I have a whole collection of her work myself! My partner is also a huge inspiration and a huge supporter. He is the male figure in many of my nude and couple pieces, and he has just been great. My mom has supported me from the jump, and she helps me with packaging and shipping. She's the best!

We all need good support networks, and vision too! Tell me a little bit about where you hope to go with your crafting. Do you have any goals or hopes for the upcoming year?

I reeeeally hope one day to make this my job and not just a "side hustle". I would love to craft all day every day, and I do want to start devoting more time to more creating. I've started back on jewelry recently and it feels awesome, just gotta put the time in. I plan to paint more pieces, finally enter into some art shows and festivals, and show everyone what I'm about.
Another lovely photography piece; "The Lone Rubra". Purchase HERE.

Best of luck to you on that! Hopefully some of the people reading will support you by buying your fantastic art. One more question for today...what do you think is the most important thing that people get out of crafting(either as a hobby or a job). What do you think crafting has added to your life and adds to others?

Crafting, in a sense, gives me purpose. It keeps me sane! It's soothing and I feel like it's what I was made to do. When I give away art or jewelry or someone makes a purchase, it's like I'm giving them a piece of me because I put so much into everything I make. The receiver gets something made with love, and I get the satisfaction of making someone happy! THAT, not the money or fame, is the best thing a crafter can get out of crafting.

There you have it SweetShoppers--the one and only Kia Beech! Many thanks to Kia for sharing a little bit of herself in this interview. Please support her by visiting Chocolate Cherri Bomb at the following sites; 

Peace, beautiful people! Don't forget to visit Chocolate Cherri Bomb Art!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

SweetShop Studio: Head in a Basket? (and a few other things...)

Hi, SweetShoppers! I have a few quick updates for today...first of all, I've been busy writing a new hat pattern for the online shop(which should be back up soon...) It's a basketweave worked in the round...subtle but still pretty and visually interesting. I'm wearing my sample in the photos...I hope you'll all like it as much as I do...

So let's see, what else have I been working on? Oh, yes...remember The MC hat that I was working on? I finally finished it, and...
Ooh. No. Double no. Aside from the fact that I am wearing the hat inside out in this photo, I just don't like the way it came out. It's WAY too big(my own fault, for preemptively deciding to go up a hook size) and the join at each row is very visible. It's lovely pattern, but I didn't do a great job on it. The only thing I really liked about this experiment is the color combination. I wasn't too sure about this, but the mellow gray really makes the pastel yellow pop and appear almost neon. It's a really funky combination and one I'll be trying again in the future.

One last thing...I'm sure I'll be doing a full blog post about this when I track down who is responsible, but the other day I was walking in downtown Denver, near the Union Station construction site, and stumbled upon a fence full of crocheted flowers. I have no idea who's done this or why, but it was an unexpectedly cheery sight on a cold winter day.
I spent about twenty minutes taking pictures of all of the flowers on my phone(and probably looked a bit crazy while doing so...) but the display is really cute and well put together. It fronts a truly ugly, eyesore construction site and elevates the sometimes-grim cityscape just a bit...but a very important bit.

My favorite flower was this one...
And with that, I'll leave you to your crafty days, beautiful people. Peace!!