This week feels like summer in April! The temperatures have been near 80 degrees. The violets and forsythia are in bloom, and there are little leaves on the invasive honeysuckle and willows. The birds are all singing a merry song, and the air just feels different. Now, April 19th is next week and we always have snow right around then. And sure enough, snow is predicted for next Monday. But you know it won’t last. It will be too early to plant for awhile, but it’s time enough to start getting excited!
Mom is going in for knee replacement surgery coming up. I’ll be taking a week off to stay with her. I haven’t had that much time off straight in awhile now.
The new location for Horrocks opened at the mall. Honestly, it’s a nice store than Battle Creek deserves. We don’t deserve good things here. I expect someone will be shot in the parking lot there, as that is what Battle Creek represents. If you live here, you know.
I finished the prose poetry class, and have started up a private facebook group for our class. I hope to keep the interaction going. I’m working on a little side project for prose poetry as well.
I’m starting to get in a panic about the Whisker Mixer event. I’ve really screwed myself this time with what I said I’d do and the time left to do it in. Maybe the world will end before the event?
It’s mid-month already, and time for a March Update. I would have to look back at previous bullet journals, but I suspect that perhaps my feelings of ennui are normal for the time before the official start of spring. It doesn’t feel or look like spring yet. There’s still snow on the ground, with more on the way. It doesn’t even really feel like there is the promise of spring, and yet the calendar shows otherwise. There’s more grayness than sunshine, and everyone seems a bit unhappy. Another two weeks or a month, and everything will feel different.
I’ve been typing letters on the 1965 Olympia SM9. It is delightful to work on. I continue to struggle with creativity, but letter writing always feels good. I’m taking an online class on writing prose poetry. It is a four-week class. If you haven’t heard of prose poetry, check out Charles Simic’s work. Some of his poems are included in the bottom of that article. My Grandma wrote and enjoyed poetry. I wish I could discuss this class with her.
I’ve been crocheting a lot of infinity scarves. Nothing is selling on Etsy, but maybe they will sell at the craft booth for the Canine Carnival in August. I have two baby blankets and a special comfort blanket to make, with yarn due in today to get started.
It’s time for my annual movie review in preparation for the 95th Oscars. This year had a lot of great movies, and also some that were nominated but I would suggest avoiding. Let me know in the comments what you watched, what you enjoyed, and what movies should be avoided. You can check out my thoughts on last year’s awards here.
All Quiet on the Western Front Avatar: The Way of Water (didn’t watch) The Banshees of Inisherin Elvis (didn’t watch) Everything Everywhere All at Once The Fabelmans Tár Top Gun: Maverick (didn’t watch) Triangle of Sadness Women Talking (didn’t watch)
To start it right out, I didn’t watch Avatar (don’t have Disney+), Elvis (I hate Elvis), Top Gun (I hate Tom Cruise), or Women Talking (not available for streaming). For the rest, be prepared to sit for awhile if you are going to watch them. When did the average length of movies become 2+ hours? I don’t go to movie theaters, and so I streamed everything I watched in shorter segments over multiple days. I didn’t necessarily think all of the movies needed to be that long.
The Fabelmans is worth watching to the end, for me at least, due to a cameo appearance in the last five minutes that I really enjoyed. I suspect Everything Everywhere All at Once may win for best picture, as it has won so many awards at the other ceremonies leading up to the Oscars (Golden Globes, SAG Awards, etc.). And it is nice to see an Asian film win for sure. Also, I love Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh. I found the movie itself kind of hard to follow. Interesting concept as well, but not my absolute favorite. Should you watch it? Maybe, if it is streaming on a service you already have.
I thought Tár was excellent, and Cate Blanchett was amazing in it. It’s a movie that would win in another year if it wasn’t up against Everything and I do recommend it. I think I will probably watch it again. I understand that The Banshees of Inisherin is a dark comedy. I just didn’t like it that much. All Quiet on the Western Front is a hard movie to watch. It might win against, Everything, as it did very well in the BAFTAs. It is quite good.
My favorite nominee is Triangle of Sadness. I doubt very much it will win for any award, but I loved it. Loved the concept, loved the acting, loved the humor. Loved it.
Actress in a Leading Role
There was controversy over the category of actress in a leading role with how the film To Leslie scored a nomination of its lead actress Andrea Riseborough. There is a bigger conversation on which films get nominated because they are really good, and which films get nominated because the money is there for promotion, but that’s for another day.
I watched all of the nominees except for Ana De Armas in Blonde. The movie wasn’t interesting to me, so I didn’t watch it. All other actresses put on great performances and I wouldn’t be disappointed in any of them winning. I really did enjoy To Leslie, and thought Andrea Riseborough did a great job.
Documentary Feature Film
All That Breathes (didn’t watch – can’t stand another dead animal film)
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (not available)
Fire of Love (didn’t watch)
A House Made of Splinters
My goodness, I had a hard time this year with documentary feature, and it’s normally one of my favorite categories. Fire of Love is on Disney+, and I’m not springing for another service. I wanted to watch All the Beauty but it won’t be available until March 19 which is after the awards show and honestly by that time I think I’ll be watching gardening shows to cleanse my palate. For that reason, I didn’t watch All That Breathes as I absolutely can’t watch another film where creatures die. I know that it’s about brothers who try to save birds and have a bird hospital, but you know well enough some of them are going to die and I’ve just plain had enough.
A House Made of Splinters is depressing. Navalny is depressing. Both are worth a watch to see what’s going on in the world, and they are both important stories. Watch them, but not back to back, and watch a comedy or two in between.
Documentary Short Film
The Elephant Whisperers (didn’t watch)
How Do You Measure a Year? (not available – didn’t watch)
The Martha Mitchell Effect
Stranger at the Gate
I enjoy a nice documentary short. How Do you Measure a Year is not available for streaming, and I just didn’t feel much like watching The Elephant Whisperers. I get tired of watching sad animal films to be honest. Will some elephants die or be threatened with death? Yes, probably, so I’m not going to risk it. I get enough of it at work, you know? For the films I watched, I would recommend seeing them all. Haulout is quite short and it’s less a walrus film and more an environmental film. I would guess Stranger at the Gate will win, and it deserves it. Martha Mitchell was by far my favorite though. What an amazing woman and a life story that should be more well known. It’s a reminder that what happened to Mary Todd Lincoln was still happening not too long ago in this country. Outspoken women could be institutionalized for being outspoken. You should watch it!
International Feature Film
Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)
Close (Belgium) (didn’t watch)
All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)
The Quiet Girl (Ireland) (didn’t watch)
I would absolutely expect All Quiet to win this category, and it is deserved. I really did like Argentina, 1985 as well. It’s a dub, not sub, so that might be a problem for you. If you put on the sub, it doesn’t match the dub, which is even more irritating. The story is great, the set design is amazing, and it features a speech that will move you to tears. Close and The Quiet Girl are not available for streaming. I regret watching EO. The donkey dies in the end. Yes, I understand the point of the film. Yes, it’s an important issue. But I don’t need to see it to know it.
Misc. Thoughts on Other Categories
I didn’t see enough movies in the categories of Cinematography or Music – Original Score to really be able to comment on who should win the categories. But while I was watching All Quiet on the Western Front, I thought it could absolutely win for these categories. The musical score was haunting and perfect. It was like a character all on its own, just amazing.
I did watch a couple of the animated shorts, which is normally one of my favorite categories. I didn’t like anything I watched. And the live action shorts weren’t available for streaming.
That’s it! That’s my thoughts for this year’s Academy Awards. What, if any, did you watch? What were your thoughts?
I have recently, as mentioned in my last post, fallen into the rabbit hole of vintage typewriters. Heaven knows I appreciate vintage desk equipment like my Zephyr American Rolodex V-File Jr. or my Swingline 333. And also, modern life in general is maybe not so great, as this week I have spent hours upon hours on tech support with three companies to get to the bottom of some email troubles. And any time I wind up trying to write on the computer, I find myself wandering the internet and not doing much writing.
So, vintage typewriters. The one at the top of the page is a 1965 Olympia SM9. It was born in West Germany and is in fantastic shape.
The feel of typing on it is amazing, crisp and fun. And the typeface itself is perfect.
Honestly, writing on it is a delight. I look forward to writing letters, tags, short stories. Owning an Olympia SM9 is a slam dunk.
The 1966 Royal Safari is a beautiful machine, isn’t it? And this one has a lovely script font.
That being said, it takes more effort to get it to type nice and dark. You’d have a hard time writing something really lengthy with it, but it would make some nice cards or tags.
I need about three weeks to get everything done that I would like to get done, clear the plate of old projects, and start fresh. I don’t see that happening, but it sure would be nice.
We are on the edge of a February storm. This month has been odd for weather, with five days so far 15 degrees or more above average. We are expecting snow, then ice today into tomorrow, and then maybe temperatures at 50 degrees Thursday before plummeting to the 20s for the weekend. Hopefully we won’t lose power and we will be able to get to and from wherever it is we need to go. Cass, above, shows a nod to spring wishes while staying warm with a hat. He is a good office mate and brings me much joy at work. The daffodils in the CWBP are just poking up, but no pussy willows yet. There are flocks of robins at the shelter. It feels more like March weather than February at this point. I am not freaking out so much for the start of spring. Maybe it’s because when it’s cold, all of the idiots are inside instead of outside making noise. Or maybe it’s because we haven’t had much snow and the grass has been mostly visible and winter altogether hasn’t been as harsh as normal.
I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of vintage typewriters. Quite often when I write on a computer, I get distracted with other things on the internet (Reddit). I cleaned up my arts space some to make room for a new hobby. So far I’ve written one letter with this 1966 Royal Safari typewriter. It has an interesting script typeface. I used a typewriter a little when I was younger to type papers for school, but we moved into the computer age by high school. This is a lovely machine, and it’s a fun tactile feeling to type on. I’ve got a small stack of letters to catch up on if I ever have time. It seems I never have much time. Then, after that, writing prompts, short stories, and maybe a screenplay? Who knows.
Mom has a guest at her house. Phantom, or Fanny, is staying with Mom for an unknown amount of time – either when Mom gets tired of her, or she gets a good application for adoption. Fanny was found as a stray, and the woman who found her tried to keep her but her own cats beat on Fanny. Then she came to the shelter, where the cats in the cat room beat on her. She had spent the last several months in a cage alone for her protection. She is becoming more brave and wandering around Mom’s house. She has found her way to the counter tops and everywhere else. We’ve had some cat challenges at the shelter lately. In fact, everything just seems to be kind of difficult at work these days.
This year’s staff Valentines were handmade crochet washcloths with soap paired, lavender sachets, and chocolate. The bags had a lavender sprig attached with a heart wax seal. Right now, I’m crocheting up some cat blankets for Companion Cats for their adoptions. I hope to have two more done before I drop them off. No new sales on Etsy. Anyhow, here is hoping the February storm is lighter on the snow and ice than predicted, with no power outages. Stay safe and warm!
My goodness, the January blues are here and they’ve hit hard. We are down to the last week of the month. Yesterday we had a tiny bit of sunshine, and we really haven’t had much sun at all this winter, but today is a dump of snow. The polar vortex is on the way next week, and it will be super cold again. It always seems to correspond that the January blues happen and we have a bunch of sick or stressed cats at work. I am counting down the days until spring, and I know time is passing, but there’s nothing I’d rather do more than curl up in bed. Fortunately for everyone around me, I am somehow able to get up and remain a productive human being.
I haven’t managed to get my latest scarves up on Etsy. Maybe I can muster the energy this weekend? Since the start of the new year, I’ve finished four scarves or cowls and I’m working on a fifth. My next one after the one on the hook will be Tunisian crochet for sure. Mom got me some hooks for my birthday and I’m anxious to give it a try.
The sun briefly came out for Mom’s birthday. We had lunch and made some zines. That’s right, I’m back on my zine making and zine collecting. I even forced a bunch of Girl Scouts to make zines.
Yesterday was also the Oscar Nomination ceremony. I’ve seen three of the ten nominees for best picture already, one of the documentary shorts (plus five on the short list that weren’t nominated), one of the animated shorts, and none of the international, feature documentary, or live-action documentary. I’m going to have to get busy.
I have a big crochet update! I sold my first two items on Etsy! The boxes are all put together and include some stickers and individual packs of gummy bears. I hope I’ve done a nice enough job on the wrapping, and I get positive reviews. I’m quite nervous!
I’ve been working on some rude dish towels, too. I ordered the printed towels off Etsy and have been crocheting toppers on them so they hang on the stove. I think it’s a good mix of old fashioned and rude. They are Christmas gifts for some coworkers who don’t mind profanity or other nastiness.
I’m really looking forward to getting the last of the gift projects done so I can get back to making some scarves for Etsy. I have so much yarn! I’m well behind on everything and starting to stress a little. I have all of my holiday greeting cards addressed, but writing them out is taking forever as I can only do a few on the weekends. I’m also well behind on the cards and letters at work, although I am caught up with Momo the Cat’s cards. I still have to put together all of the staff gifts and stuff for home as well. At least I should have the last of my packages mailed today and the ones for out of state have already been delivered.
Are you feeling the stress of the season? How do you cope with deadlines and still enjoying yourself?
Oh my goodness, we’re already well into December and I feel like I’m running behind. I’m working on a few last crochet projects and slowly working through my holiday greeting cards. I’ve had to cut my list back this year from 60 to 40 and I’ll be lucky to get them done on time. I hope to take my three packages to be mailed tomorrow. The good news is that, as December is going fast, spring will be here before we know it! Honestly, I’m more in the holiday spirit this year than normal, and I’m not as panicked about the upcoming winter. Maybe it’s the CPAP machine and getting regular sleep? Who knows.
I just finished this lap blanket for a family member’s mother. The colors remind me of the ocean. It’s using Bernat Blanket yard in one of those quick O’Go skein things. I don’t understand the hype of that yarn configuration. I’d rather have a skein. I generally don’t find skeins to knot and twist, which is the reason they came up with this new variety, and I find the new version actually binds and twists more at the end of the skein.
These two kitty blankets are for a friend. I made her middle kitty a blanket when he was tiny, and just now got one done for the older cat and newer kitten. These are both crocheted using Caron Simply Soft. Mom got me some fantastic Tunisian crochet hooks for my birthday. As soon as I finish my remaining holiday gift projects, I plan on starting a fun project with those hooks. I think it’s going to be the perfect way to start the new year.
Last weekend, Mom and I went to to craft shows. I hadn’t been to one since I was a child, and Mom ran a small craft business and had booths regularly. I belong to a craft group on Facebook, and there was recently a post made about craft shows; the post had over 300 comments about how difficult it is to make money at a craft fair. Today, I’m going to provide a craft show feedback post about what I noticed at the two fairs, what folks were most bothered with on the Facebook group, and my own thoughts on running an Etsy store without any sales.
Meijer Gardens Holiday Gift Show
First up was the event at Meijer Gardens. The show, 40 curated booths, opened at 9am. We got there about 10 and you could barely get up to see things at the tables. People were grabbing things right and left, and there was a huge line for checkout. When we finally did push through to the front, I was surprised to see that most of the booths had things that were not handmade. For instance, there was a booth with lovely knit scarves that were super soft, but they were made in China. There was a booth selling hot cocoa bombs, all imported from England. There were several kid toy booths, but all had things you could purchase off Amazon. Yes, there was a local apiary selling honey and Founders Brewery selling dog treats, but most of it was mass-produced items made in factories.
The fee to get in was the standard entrance fee for Meijer Gardens, rather expensive if you just wanted to go to the fair, but for us visiting the conservatories was the best part. We wouldn’t recommend or go to the fair again next year.
Caledonia Arts and Crafts Show
After Meijer Gardens, we swung by the Caledonia craft fair at their middle school. The school has two gyms, and both were absolutely packed with vendors and visitors. Now, this is a craft fair like I remember. Nearly everything was handmade. The booth pictured above was my favorite for set-up. The artist, LuAnn Tandy, runs Coppertop Crochet and has an eye for design. Her crochet pieces were gorgeous and the booth was both well put together and eye-catching. Check out her use of that vintage suitcase and dressmaker dummy to showcase her pieces! She had a lot of people looking at her products, but she had arranged everything so you could still see what she was offering. Mom bought a few gifts and the quality and look is amazing. LuAnn was at the front of the booth, answering questions and promoting features of the hats. I think her booth and her pieces were the best of the craft show.
Craft Show Trends
Here’s where the Facebook group post comes in. The individual in question had a booth at a show, and didn’t do very well. There wasn’t a ton of traffic (unlike what I saw at the two places Mom and I went), and those who were there just weren’t buying. Why?
First, we are looking at tight financial times. Prices in the grocery stores are higher, gas prices are higher, and winter fuel bills are right around the corner. Individuals are conserving their money to pay for needs, not necessarily wants. It may be slim pickings this holiday gift season for everyone.
Second, prices at craft shows are higher. Raw good costs are higher. The same skein of Caron Simply Soft is way more expensive now than before the pandemic. All craft supplies are more expensive than the pandemic. Craft show booth fees are more expensive, too. Fewer people having excess money to spend, and higher prices for the items means it’s harder to recover your money you put into the item you’ve made, never mind the time spent.
Finally, we are seeing that the big box stores have merchandise that looks more crafty or homemade. Similar crochet pumpkins I’m making are sold at Target for half the price, made in China. With new knitting machines and crochet machines, near-perfect designs can be created overseas for a much less cost.
Tips for Craft Success
One of the things I read over and over in the comments on Facebook was that there are still people out there who want to support handmade, unique items and the artists that make them. In many cases, the people who do buy these handmade items only give them as gifts to others who understand the value of these pieces. Once I offered to make a crochet blanket for a coworker’s ill father. She explained that while it was a nice thought, he wouldn’t appreciate the time or work that went into the creation. At the Caledonia craft fair, I bought a handmade felt ornament. I could see the fine detail work that went into creating it, and just fell in love with it. If you are working in arts and crafts, make sure you highlight the fact that your unique, handmade creations are supporting an artist, not a corporation. Even though I crochet myself, there are some things I just don’t enjoy crocheting, or there are some pieces so gorgeous I can’t help but want to support that particular artist despite the fact that I could maybe make it myself. All artists should support other artists! It’s what keeps us going. After all, who could better appreciate the time and skill that went into making something than someone who participates in the craft themselves?
Select a Location
Know where and when to sell your items. If you are mostly crocheting winter hats, a summer craft show might not be the best place for you. If possible, check out the craft show you are joining before paying your booth fees. Do they allow multiple vendors selling the same things? What is the normal audience at this particular show? Are there fees for visitors to get in? Consider arts and craft consignment shops, popup shops, farmers’ markets and other vendor booth events throughout the year. Make friends with other artists and find out where they like to go, and which shows to avoid.
Design Your Space
Next, if you do decide to set up a vendor booth at a show or an event, spend time designing your booth space and do a few dry-runs on setting it up and tearing it down. Does everything fit in your car? Can you haul everything yourself? Do you need electricity? There are so many YouTube videos on setting up tables for craft shows, watch as many as you can for ideas. Don’t just put your stuff flat on a table without having an idea of color and varying levels of height. And don’t just sit at the back of your booth! There were a few booths at Caledonia that had no interested customers, and the owner sat at the back of the booth. Being my own neurotic self, I felt awkward and wound up avoiding eye contact and not looking inside the booth at all!
Repeat Business is the Key!
Finally, and I think this is most crucial, you need to think about repeat business. Have signage of your business name so people know who you are. If you are going to be doing several different craft shows throughout the season, have a listing of where you’ll be next. Have business cards or a QR code that links to your social media. Offer small give-aways (stickers, suckers, etc.) to get people to give their email address and then send them an email the next week thanking them for stopping by, letting them know where you’ll be next, and asking them to follow you on social media. Even if you don’t have an Etsy store, having folks follow you on Instagram and Facebook, and showing your latest creations, could get them to contact you for individual sales. The fantastic booth with the felt ornaments? I gave her my email address in the event she gets a Facebook or Instagram page in the future. As I work on my holiday gift list, I would love to purchase some more ornaments from her but I have absolutely no way of contacting her. She didn’t have a logo or business name visible and had no social media. Leave a lasting impression and a way for folks to get in touch with you after the show!
The Feral Katt
I buy most of my unique handmade items on Etsy. In fact, I try each year to purchase the majority of gifts from independent artists. As I’m not a fan of crowds, I do nearly all of my shopping on Etsy. I have even set up my own Etsy store, The Feral Katt, to unload some of my creations. I think it gives me insight into the struggle other crafters have in creating, marketing, and selling their pieces. It’s discouraging, really. Fortunately, I have a full time job and I’m just doing the Etsy thing to entertain myself. It takes a lot of time. Time to make the items. Time to photograph them and put them up with a description. And, I suppose, time with tell if I wind up selling anything.
If you’re a crafter or have been to a craft show recently, tell me about your thoughts in the comments!
My baby Pi was adopted this past Saturday. We did an online costume contest and dog and kid trick-or-treating at the shelter as usual, but this is likely the last year for it. There’s just so much competition with other events going on. I didn’t dress up this year as I wasn’t at work. I did make small Halloween bags for staff members (below). It’s a rainy Monday, not a great day for trick-or-treating in general, even if we were going to participate in that.
For some unknown reason, when I logged into my Instagram account this morning I found they had banned my account. Considering I only post photos of cats, crochet, and landscapes, I can see absolutely no reason for the ban. You can send a request they review the ban, and they will get back to you within 30 days. There was no mention at all of a report of a problem or anything. It’s a good reminder that using a platform you can’t control means troubles like this. I’ve had catobear.com up since 2007. 15 years, no problems. A temporary or permanent ban of Instagram isn’t likely to make me want to post anything on there ever again, just in case there’s another problem. I deleted the app and will probably delete my account if they restore it.
Crochet and Etsy
I made a few more crochet pumpkins and got them up on the Etsy store. Still not a single purchase, though two of my items have been ‘favorited’. I crocheted two head wraps (photo above) from a pattern from Just Be Crafty and did my own take on a hat with a pompom on the top that didn’t turn out great. Maybe hats aren’t my thing. I’m working on a crochet infinity scarf right now out of some recycled yarn. I’m hoping if I steam-block it, maybe it will soften up? Right now I can’t imagine it around my neck, although lots of people like wool and I have a problem with that too.