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Announcement! February 17, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in Announcements.
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Hi kids! Joy here reporting for Jen!

Baby Margaret was born at 4 p.m. EST. Daddy Michael just called and said that the wee one weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 19’ish inches. :)

Jen’s o.k. and as always, the story is her’s to tell so I’ll stop here and she’ll be back with us soon!

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Review: Spindle Cat Studio February 12, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in Reviews.
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Spindle Cat Studio

Who: S.Kate Hutchison
Online: Spindle Cat Studio
Tagline: Artisan Stitch Markers, Yarn, Spindles & More!
URL: http://spindlecatstudio.etsy.com

I’ve given shout-outs to S.Kate on more than one occasion in my blog but she definitely deserves her Very Own Review. She’s a fellow Etsian whom I’ve known for a while now who deals in things fiber-related and does it very well.

For xmas this year I decided to treat myself to a set of her stitch markers after being convinced by my friend Sarah that lace knitting is really unwise without them. Until this point I had never really used stitch markers at all, and all I had on-hand were those huge ugly plastic donuts I found in the back of a drawer somewhere. I had always figured stitch markers were a pretty simplistic thing – jump rings with perhaps a pretty bead attached, right? Wrong!

In browsing I discovered that Spindle Cat stitch markers have a marked advantage above many to be found. S.Kate forms each one by hand out of various types of metal wire and most importantly works the end into the twist so it will never catch on your yarn. There are no sharp edges to snag on anything. This attention to detail made all the difference to me, not to mention everything she offers is just so darned pretty. She has a great eye for color and balance, essentially creating little works of art in each one that make them a delight to use.

The set that first caught my eye was a limited edition for the holidays called Copper Holly Days. I loved the vivid colors of this set as well as the variation between the red fossil stone markers and the five lobed copper marker (handy for marking the beginning of a row when working in the round). From a utilitarian standpoint the beaded markers have two functional ends, one fitting up to US6 and the other up to US3 so that of course appealed to my Virgo sensibilities.

Spindle Cat Studio
Copper Holly Days Stitch Markers – Limited Edition

I was only intending to get the one set to start, but as I was looking through her shop I spied another set that was just too sweet and cute to pass up, a set of four Czech Glass stitch markers that fit up to US4.

Spindle Cat Studio
Czech Glass Stitch Markers on Handmade Copper Headpins

I really liked the smaller size, thinking that they would be good for things like socks and baby items knitted in the round on US0-3 dpns. I placed my order and waited anxiously.

I didn’t need to wait long – my order arrived quickly and I wish I could say that I took photos of the package when it arrived but I was so excited that I just opened it before I could stop myself. Inside a sturdy box were my goodies, along with a few sweet treats and a handwritten note from S.Kate thanking me for my order. She had punched out holly leaves from green paper and sprinkled them amongst the bounty, all very nice touches. She even included a sample of her rustic Hand Formed Copper Ring stitch markers (which I had also been eyeing). It was great to be able to see one in person and admire the craftsmanship of the soldering and hand finishing. A definite add to my wish list.

Spindle Cat Studio
Hand Formed Copper Ring Stitch Markers

All the stitch markers were even better in person than I had imagined. I immediately fell in love with the way they looked and even more the way they felt – not bulky or weighty, but substantial enough to do the job. Something that didn’t register with me while ordering but became probably my favorite thing was the stitch marker holder that came with the Holly Days set – indispensible for keeping everything together.

As far as packaging is concerned, each set comes on their own folded card, hung on a punched design with all the details on sizing and materials written on the inside and tied together with a bit of embroidery thread. It’s a very simple yet ingenious design, making it easy to store markers in the original packaging if you so desire. I could even see having a file box to hold sets of markers in this fashion.

I was so pleased with my first stitch markers that I ordered two more sets – I liked the textured look of the Sterling Ring stitch markers and they fit up to US9. I thought it would be nice to try something without any danglies and I love silver.

Spindle Cat Studio
Sterling Ring Stitch Markers

The second set I ordered were the Elegant Copper Swirls with White Howlite. I really like the free-form cloverleaf design and particularly liked this larger set (fits up to US10) that had both beads and the fancy swirl.

Spindle Cat Studio
Elegant Copper Swirls with White Howlite Stitch Markers

By this point S.Kate and I had started a dialogue about her offerings (more like me gushing over how much I loved everything and squeeing like a fangirl) and I expressed how handy I found the marker holder that came with my Holly Days set. She has started routinely offering them with her sets which of course I think is a brilliant idea and well worth it.

My next order arrived – again, packaged in an attractive manner and chock full of goodies. I was just as excited about this parcel and again opened it without taking pictures. I really need to work on that. In any case, the new stitch markers were just as perfect and pleasing as my previous order and I realized that I had become a Spindle Cat collector and convert.

Like any good and useful tool my stitch markers ride around in my backpack where I keep my traveling WIPs, the ones that I work on in the car, at lunch hour or while sitting in waiting rooms. I’ve been really into baby hats and socks lately so they’ve come in very handy and I use them daily. I don’t even know where my ugly plastic donuts have gotten off to, but good riddance.

Since my ordering from her, S.Kate has added a number of new and exciting offerings that all have me drooling. If I could get away with buying all of these things I certainly would.

Spindle Cat Studio
ON THE VINE – Heart Stitch Markers on Handmade Copper Headpins

Spindle Cat Studio
GRAPE LOVE – Copper Stitch Marker Set with Rustic Vine-Inspired Copper Marker Keeper

Spindle Cat Studio
Pearl Elegance – Stitch Markers – Freshwater Pearl and Copper

Though I could go on all day about them, in addition to her fabulous stitch markers Spindle Cat Studio also offers a variety of hand-painted yarns which positively fly out of her shop. Savvy shoppers need to check in often (or get an RSS feed) and be ready to jump!

Here are some examples of a few of my favorite colorways that S.Kate reproduces regularly, or if you have a need for something and don’t want to take a chance of missing it she takes special orders.

Spindle Cat Studio
TABBIOCA – SW Handpainted Superwash Yarn

Spindle Cat Studio
HOSTA DEEP- SW Handpainted Superwash Yarn

Spindle Cat Studio
COCOA PINK – SW Handpainted Superwash Yarn

There is also one skein of handspun, hand-painted yarn that I visit from time to time in her shop and moon over. The thing is (and I’m sure many people can identify with this) I don’t *need* yarn, but this is definitely at the top of my want-list along with the aforementioned hand-painted sock yarns.

Spindle Cat Studio
BIG BLUE – Handspun Yarn – Wool – 200 yds – Bulky

Perhaps someday it will “accidentally” find itself in my Etsy shopping cart and I won’t rationalize myself out of buying it…I’ll just have to come up with a creative excuse to tell the husband. Or perhaps it won’t, someone else will buy it and end my torture. Here’s hoping!

In addition to all of the awesomeness that is S.Kate’s Etsy shop, her items are soon to be featured in the brand-new online fiber destination Yarny-Goodness.com which will be opening on February 16, 2008. I for one am really looking forward to checking it out!

All product photos ©2007-2008 S.Kate Hutchison and Spindle Cat Studio

Various and sundry Sunday things. February 10, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh-to-be, Etsy, kidlet, knitting, Ravelry, sewing.
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The lovely, wonderful folks of the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group Group on ravelry threw me a virtual baby shower a week ago. They actually orchestrated sending gifts to Sarah, a local raveler who I’ve met to knit with at lunch a number of times, and she brought everything to my house! Unfortunately I was asleep when she arrived as I had had a rough day. Just like me to miss my own durned party. Anyway, after I woke up I had Michael take many pictures of me opening gifts in my pajamas. It was really super sweet of them. The pinnacle of the gifts was a lovely baby afghan containing squares made by group members and joined together. I was so touched!

Here are a few photos from that night, the rest can be found in the CPaAGG Virtual Baby Shower! set.

First, they got presents for my kid, which always endears people to me for thinking of him:

CPaAGG Virtual Baby Shower!

CPaAGG Virtual Baby Shower!

CPaAGG Virtual Baby Shower!

Here’s the final swag tally – lots and lots of handmade goodies and of course a Hello Kitty waffle iron.

CPaAGG Virtual Baby Shower!

Last night I was feeling strangely motivated. I’d like to tell myself it was nesting but I think in reality it was the Diet Coke I found leftover from the StupidBowl and had half a coffee mug full. I haven’t had caffeine in weeks and we don’t drink soda any more so it was a real novelty. It was 11:45pm and I said to Michael, “I realize it’s late but would you be willing to help me clean up my craft room?” He of course immediately said yes (as I’m sure he prays every day that I’ll do something in there) so we dug in. I told him some basic guidelines to what I wanted to save to reuse – packing material in one pile, tissue paper in another, envelopes and boxes in another, plastic bags, gift bags, ribbons, ephemera I would someday cut up, etc., etc.

I also got out a big cardboard box and started tossing yarn to destash into it. That was hard. I don’t like getting rid of yarn but there is a lot that I know I’ll never use and/or I bought back when I first started crocheting and knitting again that just isn’t my thing any more. Some things I had no problem with getting rid of but others gave me a little twinge. Still, better out than in. We hauled all the large bins out of the room so I could get to things that were hiding in random boxes and bags and piles all around them and find them a home. After putting the bins back there is a lot more room and while the shelves aren’t completely organized, it’s been started and I can clearly see how much can fit (and it’s a lot). It’s very exciting to me.

We also managed to clear off the 4′ folding table Michael got for me to use so now I can actually, you know, do things on it. It had been serving as a general junk catcher for the past couple of months. Things had been piling up in there and I would just work around them, but in recent weeks it finally got to the point that I couldn’t walk in and grab some roving or sew something because of the maze I had to navigate. Now I can at least get in there, find what I need, and do something if I so desire. It’s progress. I have one box left of “stuff I don’t want to get rid of but have no idea what to do with.” Those are the hardest. Considering the folding table consisted of pretty much all that kind of thing I’m relieved to have it condensed down to a single box. I’ll tackle that soon, just not today.

I don’t know what time it was when we finally went to bed as I didn’t check the clock (ignorance is bliss you know). After getting everything re-re-reorganized last night, today I wanted to take some photos of things I need to put into my Etsy shop (I’m nearly out of handspun yarn on there…I had only posted a few skeins, which is exciting but eep!) and some of my stash to post in ravelry but I didn’t clamp one of my lamps in a clampy enough manner and it fell, breaking the bulb. I’m not using standard bulbs, they’re 75w natural spectrum floodlamps so I can’t just get another from the bathroom cabinet. Damn. It. I asked Michael to pick up another one for me after the caucus so hopefully he has pity on me and brings one home today. Maybe he’ll bring a spare since I’m a clumsy bint.

But, seeing as I do have the table cleared off and I bought some rattail cord almost two weeks ago(!) I’ll get on making drawstring bags for all the beanbags I’ve had finished and sitting forever waiting for me to get on the ball. Oh, and I finished that Araucania sock that Michael said looked like a condom. Now that it’s a sock and not just a tube it looks much less condom-y. Thank you Joy for convincing me not to frog it. Again, photos when I have a bulb.