Scarves and the coming PSL

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I sold a scarf!

I’m so excited, y’all. Every year I think “no one is going to want a Harry Potter scarf now,” and every autumn I continue to sell them. It doesn’t matter that it’s currently 85 degrees and climbing, nor that my hands are fried from simultaneously typing like a madwoman at work, slogging away on my new novel and spending much of an evening with a crochet hook in hand!

My Etsy business is still alive and helping to supplement my wedding budget (woo!). And I get to keep making scarves, which is my No. 1 favorite way to decompress (well, maybe No. 2 — I’d have to give the top spot to reading). I am happy.


PSL with leaves
Archived photo from 2012. Don’t get too excited.


In unrelated but also slightly related news, rumor has it the pumpkin spice latte will be returning to Starbucks on Sept. 2. Don’t ask how I know; let’s just say I have my sources (like, um, searching for the PSL on Twitter). After several fruitless Google searches, I found a few reasonably reputable sources who say Labor Day is the official kick-off. Not sure if that’s accurate, but I’m going to hold onto that belief like a beautiful dream.

If you think I’ve kicked my pumpkin habit, friends, you are sadly mistaken. It’s a little embarrassing how much I love anything gourd-inspired. Last year I completed my massive PSL taste test, a post of which I’m still rather proud, and I plan to continue my tastings this fall . . . though after losing 30 pounds, I might have to do it a little more sensibly.

Eh, well — maybe. I don’t have to wear that wedding dress for another two months . . .


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The zen and balance of yarn


Work has been killer this week. After leaving the office each night, all I want to do is collapse with an overflowing bowl of brownie batter and eat. the. whole. thing. I totally eat my feelings — and they’re delicious.

But eating a bowl of batter would require me to get up and make the batter, or otherwise bribe my boyfriend/sister/dog to do it for me. So I’ve started crocheting instead. I mean, I crochet all the time — but for my Etsy shop. And I love it. If it’s possible to have a true passion for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw scarves, I’ve got it. I’ve created more than 60 since opening up a few years back, and I still find it as fun as I did in the beginning. Even when orders pile up near Christmas and I have to stand in the black abyss that is the post office and I want to cry or run away. (But I don’t. Because I am reliable!)

My mom and sister recently came home from a jaunt to Hobby Lobby, land of joy and peace, with a present for little ol’ me: rust-colored yarn. A burnt orange, if you will. It inspired me. I haven’t crocheted anything for myself in so long, save a skinny scarf I’ve worn a few times. But that took about an hour to make, so I don’t really count that toward my “personal projects” goal.

And I would like to actually have a personal projects goal. Just like my attempts at balancing review copies vs. personal books read, I want to make time for more of my own “fun” crochet projects that serve no purpose other than I . . . like them.

Balance, I keep telling myself. It’s all about balance. As complicated and tenuous and difficult though it may be.

Yarn is very zen for me — and many other knitters/crocheters, I’m sure. The feel of wool or acrylic, the click and slide of the hook, the happiness that accompanies seeing your lap fill up with row upon even row of stitches — and the joy of declaring a piece finished. I love holding something and thinking, I made this. It’s a sense of tangible accomplishment so different from anything else I do.

When I worked at a craft store, a young woman in scrubs walked timidly up to my customer service desk. She asked if anyone there could help her choose yarn — “for an absolute beginner,” she said — and a hook. She explained about her long commute each day, noting she had been feeling stressed and anxious. A doctor recommended she pick up a hobby, something to keep her mind occupied on the train, and she thought about crochet.

The store was really busy that day. It was probably around the holidays. Though I didn’t have much help at the registers and knew I would probably get in trouble for stepping away, I walked with her to the yarn department and helped her choose a basic hook and skein of yarn. She knew nothing about crochet, but she looked so hopeful — and there was no way I was turning her away. No way. I had her stand at my register while I helped other customers — and when there was a slight lull, I tried to show her the basics.

I don’t know how much she picked up that day — and she might have been better served watching videos on YouTube than instructed by a frizzy-haired cashier fresh off a long day of college classes. But I’ve thought about her over the years — about whether she stuck with it.

In my mind, she’s sitting on the Metro somewhere with the makings of a blanket in her lap. Everyone else is on their iPhone, reading a Kindle, staring vacantly into the dark train tunnel. But her blanket is growing, row by row, stitched together in reds and grays and whites. One long and flawless piece.


The more I create, the more I keep creating

I measure my days in scarves.

As the weather gets cooler and Halloween approaches, I’m seeing the return of a fun time in my yearly schedule: scarf-makin’ time. Strangely enough, people aren’t too interested in cozy outerwear during the hot winter months, but October? Now is my time to shine.

I’ve been fortunate to see a boom in my Etsy business, which is where I sell my crocheted scarves. I’ll be perfectly honest: I don’t know any stitch but the afghan stitch, so I’m not a very versatile crafter. But the one stitch I know? Well, I can do it well. And I’m putting it to use while making scarves I hope any Hogwarts student would be proud to wear.

I can’t say I set out to make Gryffindor and Slytherin scarves (with the odd Ravenclaw here and there) exclusively, but what started out as a hobby has quickly taken over my free time. I’m very thankful to have orders pouring in, no doubt about it, but I’m almost getting to the point of needing to outsource my work. Coupled with lifelong hand and wrist issues, I’m having myself quite the time.

But it’s a great way to keep the Potter love alive while still feeding my Etsy addiction. While others may see autumn as a time of pumpkins, apple picking and “Hocus Pocus” screenings, I see only crochet hooks and yarn in burgundy and gold. My supplies cover the couch and travel with me everywhere, just in case I have a moment to finish a few rows. The more I create, the more I want to keep creating.

Constantly running through my head? “I’ve finished a Gryffindor but have two more to make,” I think. “And I need to put tassels on the Slytherin. And the Ravenclaw. And one’s going to Canada, and one’s going to Virginia. Need to get them in the mail.”

Between all my Postcrossing cards and scarf packages, I’ve become quite chummy with the folks at my local post office. I’d say we’re almost on a first-name basis.

And considering how annoyed they usually seem, I consider that quite an accomplishment.

Slytherin scarves now join the ranks

When I started my Etsy business in February, I never dreamed that I would someday spend all of my time making . . . “Harry Potter” scarves! And let me say this: I love every minute of it. I sold my first two scarves — in Gryffindor colors — to a customer for a movie premiere in July, and I couldn’t even begin to recreate the Supreme Dance Of Joy I did when that order came through. Especially since I was just about to throw myself an epic pity party and begin whining about how things just don’t seem to work out for me (which is patently untrue, but sometimes it feels true — trust me).

Since that fateful day, I’ve made more than twenty “Harry Potter” scarves for Halloween costumes, birthday gifts and just-for-me presents for people all over the U.S. and in Canada (!). Each has been in the classic burgundy-and-gold color scheme of the Gryffindor House at Hogwarts, the boarding school which teaches witchcraft and wizardry to its magically-inclined student body — which includes one Harry Potter himself.

I’m a huge fan of the series and originally created my first Gryffindor scarf to be worn by yours truly! I was still working at the bookstore when Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows was released, and I got the great idea that I would dress as a Hogwarts student . . . until I was named mistress of ceremonies for our store-wide event. Because I’m awesome. (And, well, because no one else was willing to speak publicly and lead themed games for more than a thousand people in a very confined space. But let’s just go with I’m awesome.)

So the Gryffindor scarves have been a hit, and I’m very thankful — having projects to complete each night adds a totally new dimension of productivity to my evenings! And getting emails from folks who opened my work and are thrilled to death with the final product warms my wizard-loving heart. But this past weekend? I decided it was time to expand my product line. I have other scarves for sale, sure, but nothing else in the HP line. Allow me to present . . .

The Slytherin Scarf.

Will evil now triumph over good? I’ll keep you informed . . .


Let’s get Etsy-fied

I scrapbook, crochet, make cards, design digital graphics and just generally . . . consider myself “artsy.” Not in the pretentious, black-beret-wearing way — just in the “I enjoy art and making stuff” way. And I sit at a computer all day and hang out on the Internet in between work projects most afternoons. And I’m the Queen Googler! Give me a problem and I promise that Google, the keeper of all knowledge, will have the answer.

So how, then, did I not know about Etsy, a marketplace for handmade goods?

It’s like eBay for crafts. And it’s awesome. You can find pretty much any gorgeous, homemade item you could possibly want! And most of it is quite affordable. There are a hundred reasons why buying from individuals all over the country (and the world) is probably better for you and them than heading out to a “big box store,” but it’s mostly exciting because I’m psyched to be able to find really different, ecclectic items for presents and decorating. I’ve been looking for something else to go with my office’s London theme — I have a London corkboard, various desk items and a London painting my sister got me. And then I saw this for sale by NestaHome (please ignore my very crude text box to keep the photo from being replicated):

london_nesta

It’s a digital collage — of London! And from a series the creator calls “Alone In the City.” I pretty much am in love with it. This one is “Waiting For the Bus”; there’s another in the set I bought called “Sometimes all you see are buildings.” I have wall space all picked out for them!

And I bought something else as a present . . . but I can’t divulge that highly classified information! Suffice it to say I’m very excited to get it — and to give it for Valentine’s Day.

Once I got more comfortable with Etsy, my plan is to start selling some of the multitudes of scarves I’ve crocheted over the years! My sister and I paid for a table at a local craft fair a year and a half ago — and sadly came back home with the majority of what I’d created for the show. We hardly sold a thing. And I don’t think it was for lack of quality, let me tell you — I’m very proud of my scarves! And I didn’t have anything on the table selling for more than $10. People were just being cheap that year. This past November, when we were in the throes of the recession and folks were gearing up for Christmas? We probably would have done much better. But that’s fine. Now I might have a way to unload some of my stock and bring smiles to the warm, happy faces of potential buyers looking for just the sort of random scarf I happen to be selling! That calls for some cheers!

UPDATE at 8:45 p.m.: I try not to be all talk and no action! I officially have my very own Etsy shop, boasting five scarves that I’ve crocheted lately! I figured I would start small, though I have plenty more to list. Feel free to stop by! And for you Harry Potter fans, here’s a sample — complete with my cultured hands-on-hips pose . . .

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