Inside and Out

One misty moisty morning when cloudy was the weather
I met with an old man a-clothed all in leather
He was clothed all in leather with a cap beneath his chin
Singing how do you do and how do you do and how do you do again

That nursery rhyme is on my mind this morning because I woke up to a misty, moisty morning with fog shrouding the distant hill. We’ve had some warm days–yesterday the temperature reached to near 70!–and our snow is long gone, except for the patch of ice just outside the back garage door. Even the snow on the hills across the road is almost gone. Their snow always lingers a long time after ours has melted because they live on a north facing hill.

I thought this cozy, misty, foggy morning would be a good time to write as I drink my coffee.

My business cards

Last week I found a few moments here and there to make business cards that I can give to people who show an interest in my products when I am crocheting in waiting rooms or delivering finished items to a customer at her company. Avery, which sells blank cards and labels, will either professionally design and/or print business cards, labels, etc., for people at their website or they let people use their templates to design and print them themselves. I, of course, printed the business cards myself to cut costs. I think they turned out quite well. I put some in my purse and gave some to EJ because sometimes he tells his co-workers about my work.

My store sign.

Using the templates from a photo program that came with my Canon camera, I made signs that I can hang up at local stores. I printed off my actual business cards on business card sheets that Avery sells, but I also printed off the business cards on regular paper. I will cut them apart and staple them to my signs so people can tear them off if they are interested. (I used my computer’s snipping tool to copy the sign to share here and it makes it look blurrier than it really is.)

It’s not entirely comfortable for me to promote my work, but I know I have to do it in order to build my business. I think that setting prices for my products is even more difficult than promoting my business. It’s difficult for me to place a value on what I do. I don’t want to over-charge but my friend tells me I don’t charge enough. I know that handcrafted items are expensive, but the creator has to charge enough to pay for all the supplies used in making the item–including yarn, stuffing, eyes/noses, and shipping supplies. And we have to make some profit. I sell items to supplement our income. I calculated that if I charge $30 for an item that takes me three days to make, subtracting the  cost of supplies, I make less than $10 per day. Not many people would be willing to work for so little. I do it because I really enjoy the creativity, working at home, and being my own boss. In addition to my crocheting, I can take care of the house, the chickens, the garden, and other tasks. Plus, Hannah Joy is such a cuddle bunny that I think she couldn’t handle being alone every day.

On Thursday I finished the adorable bunny that my customer ordered. We delivered it to her at her workplace on Saturday morning. I enjoy making crocheted animals and dolls. I always feel as if I am bringing them to life. 🙂

I couldn’t begin the customer’s unicorn blanket until I could get to the store to buy yarn, so after I finished the bunny I quickly made a crocheted dog to resemble our Hannah Joy. I’ve been wanting to do it for quite some time. It’s just a simple representation of her, but I think it’s rather cute. I am using it as a profile picture at my Facebook page.

Our pet food bins.

EJ’s regular work week is four 10-hour days, Monday through Thursday. However, he can sign up to work overtime, so he usually works eight hours on Friday. He gets home about 3 pm on Fridays. This last Friday we left as soon as he arrived home to run some errands. We first went to a farm store on the other side of the city to buy two big 40 lbs bags of cat food. We were almost out. We store our cat and dog food in big plastic trash cans in our pantry.

This is the unicorn blanket I am working on.

Next, we went to Hobby Lobby to buy the yarn for the unicorn blanket I am making for my customer. The pattern called for Hobby Lobby’s own brand of yarn called “I Love This Yarn.” Yarn comes in different “weights”: #2 is a very fine yarn for making items like socks, #3 is great for baby items, #4 is a medium weight used for most projects, and #5 and #6 is bulky or chunky for larger projects. Even yarn of the same weight has different softness or are a bit smaller than others. The type of yarn used can affect the size or softness of the blanket.  I never shopped at a Hobby Lobby until just a month ago when they opened a store in Traverse City. I usually like to buy yarn that I can find anywhere–like Red Heart, Caron, or Bernat–but I just bought the specified yarn because I wasn’t familiar with the texture of “I Love This Yarn” and didn’t know what would be a comparable yarn in a familiar brand. I bought a pretty soft pink “I Love This Yarn” that is soft and which I think has a sort of light poofiness to it.

On the way home we made a brief stop at the grocery store and we also stopped at an auto parts store so EJ could buy some belts for the Xterra. He worked on the Xterra Sunday. He told me that as he worked, he could hear the birds singing, and sandhill cranes and geese flying overhead. It was very pleasant.

I spent Sunday morning cleaning the house and then I went outside to rake a winter’s supply of Hannah’s poop from the yard to the sides of the driveway. I think it will enrich the ground there to help stop erosion. When we first moved to our house, we found deep gullies along and across our driveway that had been caused by erosion. Our first summer here, we shoveled (by hand) more than 90 yards of gravel, stones, and dirt into the gullies. I have used potato stones (stones the size of potatoes) to build–and rebuild–dams along the driveway to slow the rush of erosion-causing rainwater, and I have been planting flowers along the driveway to hold the soil. I am winning the erosion war, but it takes yearly maintenance.

In a few weeks it will be time to start working in the garden. Until we get the garden planted, the chickens are free to wander in it. Every time I go out to the back yard, I admire how their scratchings are preparing the ground. In my photos, you can see the difference between the ground outside the fence and the ground inside the fence where the chickens have been at work. I’m eager to start caring for the garden, but it’s too risky. Despite the Spring-like weather, we are expecting some snow on Thursday and we can get frost into May.

Even though it’s too early to plant the garden, I can spot tulips, daffodils, and lilies beginning to poke their heads above the ground. That is always exciting.

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