Saturday, January 30, 2010

Valentine's Day Scarf Sale!

Whew!  I just spent about two hours updating my shop by pulling together all the red, pink, and purple scarves for a special Valentine's Day Scarf Sale!  Please check it out and let me know what you think:  Is it too much of the same color for my front page?  Or do you like the similar colors look?

I'm thinking about doing this again in March for St. Patty's Day with all my green scarves....  So what do you think?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Knitting "The Amazon" Multi-Green Scarf

Now, as I've said before, I have a rather short attention span when it comes to making objects of the knitted variety. I prefer to make scarves on my big needles--loose knit, skinny and measured from one knee to the other to know when to stop (or when I run out of yarn).  Because the yarns I use are generally expensive to begin with ($8 up to $30 a ball/skein), I try to make a scarf using one or two balls of yarn.

Once in a while, I combine the odd balls of yarn left over from other projects to make a "bohemian" style scarf such as this scarf in my shop.  Last week, a potential customer saw the Bohemian Greens and wrote to me asking if I could make a much wider, longer multi-greens scarf.  The exact request was to make a scarf like it that was 6" wide and 9-10 feet long.

So I got my supplies together.

I started out with a lovely variegated yarn, but after knitting a swatch with it, it was feeling like it was too complicated to mix with the others, so decided to leave that one out of it.

Then I put my yarns in an order I thought created a pleasing contrast of texture and color from one to the next, and made a sequence of the eight different yarns.

I had to decide how many rows of each color to do, based on how much of each yarn I thought I had.  It's always hard to guesstimate with a partially used ball of yarn, but ended up going in this ratio:

After working on the scarf for 5-6 nights, it was finally finished!  Hard to photograph a scarf that is 10+ feet long, but here are a couple of pics.  They are somewhat blurry because I think my camera's autofocus is having a hard time defining some of the fuzzy textures (and I'm no good with manual focus!).

I was going to name this one "Jolly Green Giant" for obvious reasons, but decided to go with the more subtle, but no less true, "The Amazon". 

Hope you enjoyed my story of making this warm, fluffy, humongous scarf.  Please write and tell me what width and length you prefer your scarves to be!  Thanks!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Defining My Mission

I joined the 52 Weeks of Blogging Your Passion program headed by ScoutieGirl last week, and figured it's about time to finally hit the nail on the head for week one--defining my mission for my blog and Etsy Shop.  Can't really think of a creative way to do this, so I'll just pretend I'm doing this interview-style...

aquamarine adventures handknit scarf by susanneedlehands

Susan, what fuels your passion for creating handknit and crocheted items?

Originally taught to knit and crochet by my mom, aunt, and grandmother, I came to appreciate the idea that making things by hand is an act of love. This skill has been passed down from generation to generation through the ages, engaging my love of history and "the way things used to be." (Which is why I teach knitting and crocheting as part of my afterschool Arts & Crafts Club at work, but THAT's another story altogether...). I am also a very tactile/kinesthetic person (can you say "used to be a dance major"?) and love the different textures and feeling of soft, luscious yarn sliding over my fingers. Add to that the visual factor of being able to mix and match various vivid, dazzling, brilliant colors, and logical activity of pattern, repetition, and numbers and you get my total and utter addiction to creating things with yarn.

enhanced colors candyland shoulderette by susanneedlehands


My inspiration usually comes from handling the yarn itself. Each yarn has a different personality, feel, texture, look and is good for a different purpose. I try to figure out what that is--the possibilities are endless!!!

What do you create?

My passion for making scarves in particular evolved from the following: the desire to start and finish a project quickly leaving more time to experiment with other new yarns, the fact that if a project takes too long to complete or involves sewing parts together, I will mostly likely not finish it (unless it’s a special request or gift for a friend), and the fact that I experience chronic sore throats and I personally like to wear scarves to keep my neck warm.

Although I have made more complex items (I used to work for a knit shop in Glendale called Soft Wear, making custom ordered knit sweaters), I find that scarves are what I always return to. There is nothing so comforting and relaxing as coming home from a long day at work (teaching 6th grade/middle school) and being able to sit down and curl up with a few balls of yarn and transform them into something gorgeous and wearable.

I remember finding my wooden 35 knitting needles at Unwind in Burbank, CA a few years ago. I absolutely love the feel of them in my hands--no finger cramping whatsoever, like smaller needles sometimes produce.

That said, I would like to share a bit of myself as well as my creative process with you. There is no straightforward path to creating in my house. I am pretty much all over the place and like the freedom and spontaneity to investigate different topics, activities, and musings. I hope that my readers can bear with me on that and come along with me for the twisty-turny, rickety-rockety ride.

A customer may just be interested in “getting the goods", which can easily be done at my Etsy shop, and will hopefully be a nice, satisfactory experience both in the ordering and receiving of their items. I do hope that my customers receive the handmade “vibes” that go into every item I make, and how different that makes them from the machine manufactured goods available in most stores.

But for those who like the “whole story”, or at least a peek through the window into the world of the person who is creating these items, I share more aspects of myself and my life here.


So, now that I've finally got that out there, it's time to ask for your comments. (Oh no, feedback, and...possible criticism!) Please help me out by checking out my shop (how many times can one plug their own business in a single blog post???) and my products and letting me know what you think about my "brand" (not too clear on that myself) and my blog as a tool for communicating to my customers.

Whew! That one's over. Let's hope the next 51 weeks are somewhat easier!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Birth of SusanNeedlehands

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to feel soft things with her hands.  Unfortunately, her parents had never let her or her sisters have pets you could actually pet, like a cat or a dog.

[Image Credit:]

Nooooo, she had chickens and ducks, hermit crabs, and fish.  But nothing with honest-to-gosh fur you could rub and hug and pet pet pet pet.

[Photo Credit: ]

Luckily for her, however, her mother, aunt, and grandmother were all handy with yarn and needles--sewing and knitting needles, crochet hooks, all could be used to transform a ball of yarn into something beautiful, warm, and practical.

[Image Credit:]

After many lessons with each mentor, the girl finally got the hang of knitting with two pointy needles and crocheting with a strange shaped hook.  It took a long time because she was left-handed, and her mentors kept trying to make her do things their way (right-handed), until one of them figured it out and finally had her mirror the actions in the hand she preferred.

[Photo Credit:]

The girl had many passions in life, knitting and crocheting being two of them.  Sometimes she would do these activities almost as much as her favorite activity (reading), while other times they would be set aside for other interests such as playing guitar, drawing, painting, and writing poetry and music.

[Credits:,, drawing by author,]

But the girl grew up, as children are wont to do.  She moved out and went to school to become a teacher.  She started teaching and was sooooo consumed in learning how to be a teacher that pretty much all her other interests and activities fell by the wayside for a number of years.

[Image Credit:]


The (now) woman got a new roommate who, in addition to her original roommate, was interested in learning how to knit.  The three of them went to yarn shops together and got all the necessary supplies.  The woman taught her roommates how to knit and they had a lovely time sitting in front of the TV, watching old movies (especially those featuring Johnny Depp) and knitting scarves and wristbands.  During one such movie, the younger roommate gave the woman the nickname "Susan Needlehands" because of her flashing needle action that happened to coincide with the fabulous hair-cutting scene.

[Photo Credit:]

The younger roommate insisted that the woman could sell her scarves at a local farmer's market that was just starting up in the neighborhood.  The two did all of the necessary paperwork to set up shop and would take turns spelling each other at their table/booth from Sunday to Sunday.

[Photo Credit:]

*   *   *

Sadly, the younger roommate passed away, due to sudden and unforeseen circumstances.  Her memory and spirit live on in the name SusanNeedlehands and in the shop I have created on Etsy.

Thank you for reading.

En memoria de Shirley Janairo