Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year, SweetShoppers!!!

Don't have much to say other than that I hope you all are having a safe and happy celebration of 2013's arrival!  2012 has been crazy but productive, and I hope that 2013 brings us all more of the latter and less of the former.

Peace!!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays...

Photo courtesy of Ordinary Mommy Design


Merry Christmas SweetShoppers. Hope the holiday finds you all safe and warm and well.

If you want to know how to make those cool yarn Christmas trees in the photo above, check out Ordinary Mommy's blog entry HERE.

Peace on earth and goodwill to all you beautiful people!

Friday, December 21, 2012

SweetShop Studio; Pattern-writing mistakes

So lately I've been teaching myself to write crochet patterns for public consumption. I say "lately" but the truth is that this is a process that started about three years or so ago. I was briefly unemployed and spent about three months sitting in my friend's back bedroom crocheting with purloined yarn from my grandmother's storage closet. This resulted in about 20 poorly-written patterns, a lot of  hats, and the SweetShop etsy.

So long story short, I've been going through all of those previous patterns, testing them, rewriting them, and I hope to post at least one a month to this blog in 2013. Pattern writing is a new skill to me and I want to refine it over time, as well as provide something new on the blog for you lovely following followers.

I say all of that to say this; my latest pattern is a full size man's beanie hat called, appropriately, the Beanie Man. (If you don't get it, click here.) The old file looked complete, so I printed it out, pulled out a hook and some yarn, and got to work.

Halfway through the pattern, I discovered a small problem.
Objects in picture are actual size.
Oh. Oh my. Oh my, no.
Just so you can get a better idea of what the problem is...yes. those are my fingertips...


Anybody have a doll in need of a comfy winter hat? 

So long story short, no pattern this Friday, SweetShoppers. I think I need to go back to the drawing board and work this one out. There will be plenty of patterns come 2013, though!

Meanwhile...if you'd like to see some patterns that are correct, check out the Raspberry Beret and the Cup Cozy

Peace on earth! And goodwill to all you beautiful people! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SweetShop Creations wins a Liebster Award...

So I was tooling around my blogger dashboard, clicking through and catching up on some of my favorites and suddenly saw...my name? Well, not MY name, but SweetShop Creations. The lovely Libby at Artistic Expressions By Elizabeth nominated me for a Liebster, a cute blogging award given to blogs with less than 200 followers to encourage them to keep calm and carry on blogging. I've been focusing on blogging more consistently lately, so it was nice to see that somebody has been reading and wants me to keep it up!  Thank you Libby, and happy holidays!

Now for some basic information...

The rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
5. Please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!


The Questions:
  1. What is your favorite craft? Probably crochet. I've dabbled in a variety of other crafting techniques, and that's the only one that's stuck.
  2. How long have you been doing that craft? Thinking about it, probably about 5 years! That's surprising...I still feel like I only learned yesterday! 
  3. Who taught you this craft? My grandmother taught me how to chain stitch many years ago on a family camping trip...but I didn't learn how to make actual garments until about 5 years ago when I picked up a pattern book.
  4. What inspires you to keep crafting? To be honest, I just like making things. I am a DIY princess and will always try to make something myself first or jury-rig it before buying...and when I do buy, I always look for the handmade or crafted version first. Even so, my inspiration sometimes runs low--when it does, I simply trip over to my local craft shop, buy a lot of stuff I really don't need, go home, and discover that what I actually want to do is make 600 things out of the supplies I already have.
  5. What are some of your favorite blogs related to your craft of choice? Ooh, good question. I love looking at That1Girl's crafting picture blog--she's so FAST and makes all kinds of things. One Brown Crafter is great for discovering new and like-minded crafters across the blogosphere. Six Skeins Under is great for yarn lovers. To be honest, most of the other blogs I read have to do with fashion or visual arts--I don't really read too many blogs about yarn crafting.
  6. What is one item/tool you would love to have to make your crafting so much better? Time. No, really...I think I'd be a much better, more prolific crafter if I just had more time. I have materials aplenty, I just wish I had two or three unrestricted hours twice a week to do nothing buy make stuff.
  7. If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go and why? Right now? I want a week in a resort in the Bahamas. No reason, really...just that I've never done a resort style vacation before and it's cold here!
  8. Where is your favorite place to shop for craft-related items? I tend to e-window shop on etsy a lot...but I really like boutique yarn shops. I move and travel a lot, so right now there's no one place that I can recommend. There's one in every city, you just have to hunt them out.
  9. Do you sell your items or make them just for the love and joy of crafting?  (If you sell your items, where?) Lately I've been making things just for my personal enjoyment, but in January I'll be putting my etsy shop back up and there will be some original creations available there.
  10. How long have you been blogging? This blog has only been around since 2009 or so, but I personally have been blogging since back in the MySpace days. I originally got into the arts scene as a a writer, so I was quick to embrace the blog.
  11. Have you ever attended a blogger's conference?  Would you? No...I've never had a blog successful enough (or interesting enough, really) to warrant going to one...but if I ever get the opportunity I'd love to go. 

Now to nominate some folks...
ummm...anybody want to nominate themselves?


If you accept this award(or nominate yourself for one) and blog about it, please leave your url in the comments section so we can all get an idea of who you are!

Oh...almost forgot....here are my 11 questions...
1. What type of crafting do you do?
2. What are your favorite color combinations to create things in?
3. How long have you been crafting?
4. Why did you start? Did anyone teach you, or did you teach yourself?
5. Have you ever successfully taught anyone else to craft?
6. What other crafting skills do you want to learn?
7. What do you like to do besides crafting? 
8. What is your favorite internet craft source?
9. If you had a crafting soundtrack, what songs would be on it? 
10. What's the story behind your favorite hand-crafted item?
11. What's the one question you always ask other crafters when you meet them?

So there we have it! Thanks again Libby for nominating me...peace, beautiful people!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Lorene from Akhu Designs; SweetShop Interview!


Happy Monday SweetShoppers! This week we’re featuring yet another interview with of the SweetShop C.I.A.(C.rafters I. A.dmire), culture diva Lorene Rhoomes of Akhu Designs!

Lorene, surrounded by some quality Akhu Designs

I met Lorene twice, actually, in very different contexts. The first time we met, I stopped her while on a walk through Manchester and complimented her on her gorgeous hair (she and her son both have beautiful locs!). She was walking in one direction, I was walking in the other, I’m a sucker for a great head of natural Afro hair, and I never really thought I’d get to know her any better.I was just blessed by her confidence and great personal vibe and wanted to return the favor.

Imagine my surprise when Esra, aka Asoratti (interviewed here last week) invited me to a Manchester crafter’s networking meeting and there was Lorene! We introduced ourselves to each other and struck up a fast friendship that hasn’t suffered at all from being suddenly separated by 4000 miles. I’m very happy to be featuring her here today on the blog.
So, all that said, let’s get into the Q&A, SweetShoppers…
Hi Lorene! Can you first tell us all about yourself? Where are you from? What do you do? How did you learn to sew and design?

Greetings Mama! My name is Lorene Rhoomes and I was born and raised in London. For the past 6 years I've set up home in Manchester. I recently launched my own business Akhu Designs, making home furnishings, accessories and other items from ankara, which are traditional African wax fabrics.
I hail from a family of seamstresses on my mothers side but never showed any interest in learning how to sew myself until about 5-6 yrs ago. As a child I would watch my mum and grandma sew but I was only ever interested in playing in their button boxes or draping myself in the colourful fabrics. When I moved up to Manchester I enrolled in a dressmaking class at the ALC (adult learning centre) next door to my sons school and never looked back. In hindsight i guess it wasn't a case of IF I would ever learn to sew but WHEN.  

I think many of us have had that experience of learning how to craft many years after seeing our mothers and grandmothers do so. I think this ties in a bit to the name of your company...can you also tell us about that? What does your business name mean?

I called the business AKHU which means "the shining ones". They are the immortal souls of those who have gone before us, our ancestors. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, our ancestors play an active role in our lives, guiding and teaching us through the legacies they have left behind. I wanted a name for my brand that would pay respect to those whose wisdom exceeds our own.
Equally the logo had to be strong and just as meaningful as the name. The sun and its rays represent positive energy and brightness and the feather of Ma'at represents truth and wisdom. If you know who you are and where you come from and always remain true to yourself then you can always look forward to a bright future. So that's what the logo represents: A BRIGHTER FUTURE!
Akhu Designs, bringing you the vibrance of Africa! 

That is actually a really deep answer, and I appreciate you elaborating on that. How do you think culture and ancestry influence your work?

I was raised by a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father in a very traditional African household, so culture is the backbone of who I am today. It naturally spills out into all aspects of my life and especially in my work. I grew up in a house laden with positive African images, a plethora of African history books and an array of the most exquisite fabrics and foods.(Bloggers note; me too, although my cultural ancestry is slightly different. Fist bump to Lorene...but now I'm hungry and need to go find my copy of Listen, Children!)

Life was always vibrant and my love for ankara has always been there. My mum used them to tie us on her back as babies, they were used to decorate our house and we wore the most elaborate luxurious costumes made from them at times of celebration. It was inevitable I would choose ankara as my primary design fabric.(Blogger's note; Lorene makes everything from pillowcases to makeup bags to bedspreads to shirts and beyond out of this amazing colorful fabric...)
Some Akhu Ankara designs...order HERE

What inspires the things that you design from ankara?
I get inspiration from just about anything and everything. Colors and textures stand out for me so nature is a huge inspiration. Autumn is my favorite time of the year because there are so many colors and different types of weather, everything is constantly changing. I'm also greatly inspired by African culture. We are such expressive people in our music, the way we dress, how we move, our resilience and in our creativity. Despite the struggles we have encountered as a people we remain strong, beautiful and still we rise!
  
Yes, we do! Speaking of rising...what are some of your business and creative goals for this year and beyond?
In terms of the business well... having launched in late July, it's still only a baby so the only way is up! I have had such a positive response so far to my designs, the fabrics and many people want to learn more about the culture and traditions in West Africa (where my family is from and where most of my fabrics are sourced). If I can give people a positive experience or educate them about our culture through fabric then hopefully they will want to learn more about other aspects of our community.

I would love to eventually have a space where people can come and do workshops and learn more about the history of Ankara as well as trying out some of the traditional techniques...and of course I want people to purchase some of my designs too. I want people to see that Africa is more than a continent plagued with poverty and disease as so often portrayed by the media. We are a talented, extremely resourceful, well educated, cultured and beautiful people and I for one am proud to be African!
On a personal note, I am a mother of five and it was important for me and my partner to involve our children in the process of starting the business. We wanted them to see that no matter how many responsibilities you may have in life anything is possible provided you are willing to put the hard work in and sacrifice certain things like  SLEEP!! I have never been happier and probably should have done this years ago!
Thank you so much Mel for interviewing me. Stay Blessed n Beautiful! x

Well, thank you very much for the interview and best of success to Akhu Designs!

Lorene is a fun, vibrant person, SweetShoppers, and I own several of her designs...they're awesome! They truly do bring a ray of African sunshine into my life and I highly recommend her work.

                                                                                                                  
If you want to buy your very own Akhu Designs item click HERE
To follow Akhu on Twitter click HERE
And for Facebook, click HERE
.

Friday, December 14, 2012

SweetShop Patterns: Cup Cozy(repost)

So here's a final web repost of a pattern before I start posting some fancy new patterns for the holidays. As always, you can download a nice tidy pdf version of this HERE.



Cup Cozy

Difficulty:
Beginner
Materials:
25 grams worsted weight yarn
K(6.5 mm) hook
Yarn needle
Stitches:
Chain stitch: ch
Half-double crochet: hdc
Picot stitch: for this pattern, a picot stitch is sc, ch 3, sc in next stitch.
Directions:
Row 1 : Ch 12
Row 2: Hdc in 2nd ch from hook, hdc to end(11 st)
Row 3: Turn, hdc in back loop only to end. (11 st)
Row 4-23: Repeat Rnd 3, creating ribbed pattern.
With wrong sides facing, mattress stitch ends together to form ring
Row 24: Join yarn at top of ring, sc in row ends around ring.
Row 25: Picot stitch 12 times around.
Row 26-27: Repeat 24 and 25 on bottom edge of ring.
Weave in loose yarn ends, slip around cup containing your favorite hot drink!
© 2011 Melissa Watkins/SweetShop Creations

Monday, December 10, 2012

Esra From Asoratti; Sweetshop Interview!


Happy Monday SweetShoppers! Last Monday's interview with Adrienne from Afro-Triangle was pretty well received, so I've decided to feature another member of the SweetShop C.I.A.(C.rafter I. A.dmire) on the blog this week...my friend and co-conspirator in all things crafty, Esra of Asoratti!


Before we get into the interview, I want to give a little bit of background on Esra. When I met her two years ago at a knitting group, she was a loom knitter, new to the city, but very interested in creating her own business. To toot my own horn a bit, I introduced her to etsy.com and it has been AMAZING to see what she's accomplished through sheer creativity and drive. In two years, Esra has taught herself to design in a variety of techniques aside from her original loomwork(including extreme knitting and crochet), built a truly formidable network of crafters in the Manchester area, and created not one, but TWO impressive, recognizable online knitwear brands. To put it bluntly, Esra is AMAZING and has certainly inspired me to step up my creative game and business savvy! If you're a beginner crafter trying to make a business out of your passions and hobbies, Esra is the lady to look to for connections and advice in Manchester. 

That said, let's find out a little bit of information about the lady of the hour herself...


She's the pretty lady in white. Photo credit; Mick Cookson

Hi Esra! You've been a long time friend of SweetShop Creations, but you've recently undergone a lot of changes. Can you tell me a little bit about who you are now and who you used to be?
Hi Mel, Thank you very much for this awesome opportunity! :) 
I used to be Knitella, which was a more playful simple brand and it looked very homey, made of just acrylic yarns. It was easier to start with it.  
Now, I am Asoratti. I design and make high quality handmade accessories, where everything is made with merino wool, 100% lambswool, or a blend of premium acrylic. 
Why did you decide to make the changes?
As I grew a little bit as an entrepreneur, my perspective changed, and my goals developed, so it had to be done :)   
What kinds of yarn and what kinds of pieces do you love to create the most?
My favorite kind now is merino wool, it gives really nice results, and it feels so soft. I enjoy making baby sets, the ones with headbands and slippers. 
Sparkling Princess headband and slipper set...an Asoratti original! Purchase this here.

I also love to make bow headbands. They are my best sellers by far. 
Another original...the Christmas Merino headband. Purchase it, and others here.

What sort of creative plans do you have for the future?
I would love to start making knitted/crocheted home accessories. That will be my next big step.  
What inspires you? What makes you want to run home and dive into a tub of yarn?
Yarn, different fashion trends, the seasons, seeing creative products--all of that inspires me. Not to mention the great sense of accomplishment I get when I finish a piece.  
Do you have any special events or promotions coming up that you want to talk about?
I haven't done any big events this year other than the brand re-launch last month, but I always do giveaways every once in a while, so keep an eye on the newsletter
http://www.asoratti.com/newsletter-subscription-12-w.asp
and on the FB page:
So there you have it, folks! A brief but very informational interview with Asoratti. If you want more info on Esra or her brand, or if you want to purchase some of her items, check out the links below. 

You can also find Esra on Tumblr, G+, StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Instagram. Just search for the username  Asoratti
Thanks for the interview Esra, and happy holiday sales to you. 
Peace beautiful people! Keep your eyes on the blog for more interviews!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Progress...

...is slow...

SweetShop Patterns: Raspberry Beret(repost)

So I haven't been onto ravelry in ages and when I do log in after a many month absence, what do I find?

A ton of messages from people who aren't crazy about having to go to a third-party site to download the Raspberry Beret pattern.

Oops. Sorry y'all.

I understand, and I'm sorry for not updating the patterns to an online source earlier. I like the format of a downloadable pattern better personally, but I can understand wanting the easy access of having the pattern displayed online and concerns about strange downloads. With that said, I've decided to make my ravelry patterns available as blog entries as well as downloads.

This means I'll be posting new patterns soon, but first I'll be reposting the old ones...starting with...

Raspberry Beret...


Difficulty: Advanced Beginner

Materials:
2 skeins Lambs Pride Bulky in Strawberry Shortcake
N(9mm) crochet hook
Band elastic
Yarn needle, sewing needle and thread


Stitches:
Chain stitch: ch
Slip stitch: sl
Puff stitch: pff st(for help on how to do a puff stitch for this pattern, click here)
Half-double crochet: hdc
Triple crochet: tr


Directions:
Rnd 1: Ch 6, join with sl st to make ring
Rnd 2: Ch 1, 10 pff st into ring, join
Rnd 3: Ch 1, 2 pff st in each st around, join(20 st)
Rnd 4: Ch 1, *(2 pff sts in next st, 1 pff st in next st), repeat from *around, join (30 sts)
Rnd 5: Ch 1, *(2 pff sts in next st, 1 pff st in next 2 sts), repeat from * around, join. (40 sts)
Rnd 6: Ch 1,*(2 pff sts in next st, 1 pff st in next 3 sts), repeat from * around, join. (50 sts)
Rnd 7: Ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join(50 sts)
Rnd 8: Ch 1, *(2 pff sts in next st, 1 pff st in next 4 sts), repeat from *around, join. (60 sts)
Rnd 9: Ch 1, **2 pff sts in next st, 1 pff st in next 5 sts), repeat from * around, join.(70 sts)
Rnd 10: Ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join.
Rnd 11: ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join.
Rnd 12: Ch 1, *(1 pff st in next 5 sts, pff st 2 together), repeat from * around, join.
Rnd 13: Ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join
Rnd 14: Ch 1, *(1 pff st in next 3 sts, pff st 2 together), repeat from * around, join.
Rnd 15: Ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join.
Rnd 16: Ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join.
Rnd 17: Ch 1, 1 pff st in ea st around, join.
Rnd 18: Ch 1, 1 hdc in ea st around, join.
Rnd 19: Ch 3, 1 tr in ea st around, join. Don’t fasten off.
Weave elastic through row of triple crochet carefully, making sure not to bend or twist. Sew ends of
elastic together with sewing needle and thread—be sure that sewn bit of elastic is on the inside of the
hat brim to make it easier to cover.
Using same hook and yarn, carefully cover elastic as follows: Ch 1, go into bottom of first tr crochet
stitch(on top of round 18 hdc) [*yo, pull through. 2 loops on hook. Yo, go through bottom of next tr
crochet, yo, pull through. 4 loops on hook. Yo, pull through all 4 loops, yo, go into bottom of same st]
Repeat from * until all elastic is covered, join with sl st. . Be very careful not to bend or twist elastic
Weave in all ends.

© 2010 Melissa Watkins/Sweetshop Creations


If you make your own Raspberry Beret,  don't forget to comment and post a pic of it here! Peace beautiful people!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SweetShop Workshop; The MC from Get Your Crochet On!: Hip Hats and Cool Caps

Remember how I said I wasn't going to do much with the shop but was going to share more of my personal crafting on the blog? Consider that promise kept, beautiful people. What you see here is a snapshot of my latest personal project--a version of The MC hat from Afya Ibomu's funky pattern book Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats and Cool Caps. I recently was given quite a lot of fun new acrylic yarn and due to moving a lot lately, find myself low on hats.

I'll post new pics when it's finished, but for now, I have a few quick thoughts on the variations I'm including;


  • Afya Ibomu must be an *incredibly* loose crocheter because I always have to go up a hook size or two to match her gauge. The pattern calls for a 5.0 mm hook. The hook pictured is a 6.5. (BTW, I got that hook in a long-ago January sale haul, blogged about here.)
  • The pattern also calls for starting with 4 sc, joined into a ring, which is then crocheted into. That's a pretty common start for hats or any pattern crocheted in the round. However, that still leaves a small hole in the top of the hat. I guess that's not usually a problem, but I have an afro, and nothing ruins your daily cute like having afro popping through the top of your hat via a coin-sized hole. I much prefer the magic loop technique because you can close the hole, so that's what you see here. I'll draw it all the way closed when I've finished the hat.
  • Last thing for now...the stripes and color combination. The original pattern doesn't include striping instructions, so I'm just winging it by switching colors when I feel like it. I don't know how I feel about the color combo just yet though. I wanted to try something new, and had some pretty gray with a slightly pinky taupe undertone. I don't have enough for a whole hat, though, so I decided to match it with a light floral yellow. In theory it works. In person it looks...okay. We'll see what happens when the hat is finished, I guess.
I'll post more pics when this hat is finished, beautiful people. Meanwhile, hope you're all having a great day--feel free to share in the comments what *you're* working with.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Adrienne from Afro Triangle Designs: An Interview with one of the SweetShop C.I.A.(C.rafter I. A.dmire)


If you follow SweetShop Creations on Facebook, you’ll know that I often post about a select group of  awesome artists, crafters, and designers that I like to call the SweetShop C.I.A.(C.rafters I. A.dmire.) Usually my admiration extends to a reblog, a Facebook photo of an incredible piece of work that they've done, and sometimes a reciprocal “like” from the object of my obsession admiration, but that’s it.

So you can imagine how excited I was I got the chance to actually meet up with Adrienne Norris of Afro Triangle Designs and talk shop. I’ve known Adrienne for a few years—we swing through a few of the same social circles in Denver and have a few mutual friends--but we’ve never really gotten a chance to talk art and business in depth before.

I’m a firm believer in networking and promoting other people's brilliance, so I asked Adrienne if I could share an interview with her here at the SweetShop blog and she agreed. So, without further ado, SweetShoppers, I present to you...Adrienne Norris of Afro Triangle Designs!

Image courtesy of Adrienne Norris. Shirt available for purchase here


Welcome Adrienne! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, where are you now, where are you going, that sort of thing?

Well, I was born on the island of Barbados (which is in the Caribbean, for those who don’t know) and came to the US when I was 5. I lived in New York with my mom, grandmother and brothers until I was about 12, when we moved to New Mexico to live on the international school campus my dad taught at, the Armand Hammer United World College. So I’m Bajan by birth, but American by culture.

When I was 17, I had the opportunity to attend the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, which is part of the family of international schools I grew up in. What should have been a two year experience turned into only one, though. I mean, it was Italy and I was 17. Studying just wasn't a priority. So I had a chance to start over at the school in New Mexico where I graduated with my International Baccalaureate degree.

After that, I joined the Marines to be an Arabic linguist and spent 5 years doing what people told me (sort of) and translating “things” from Arabic to English. Sorry, if I gave you more details, I’d have to kill you. ;)

These days, I’m working as a freelance artist here in Denver, designing t-shirts, business cards, logos, as well as drawing and painting portraits when I can. I would love for portrait painting to be my primary source of income.

Can you tell us a little bit about how your life inspires your art?

People fascinate me. I think that’s why I love drawing faces so much. We all have the same five features – two eyes, a nose, a mouth – but they can be configured in so many different ways to make each face we see so incredibly unique that even twins who share almost identical genes, can look different from one another.

I am also amazed by what the human body is capable of whether it’s pull-ups, hand stands, or flips. That we can use our muscles to create enough momentum to launch ourselves into the air is astounding to me.
(Blogger's note; Adrienne hasn't mentioned this, but she's also a very capable capoeira  practioner!)


And tell us about the art, too. What are you working on now? What is your artistic background? What's your medium?

I would say that a lot of what I love creating most, the portraits, is self-taught. I remember sitting for hours on guard duty sketching faces from magazines, photographs, even military ID cards in an effort to master capturing a likeness. That doesn't mean I didn't have formal training, though.

I took a number of art classes during my early school years, and after leaving the Service, I attended the Art Institute of Colorado for my degree in Media Arts and Animation. This opened the doors of the digital art world and has allowed me to earn money as a graphic designer.

As far as medium goes, I love pen and ink, watercolor, and acrylic paint, each for different reasons. I call ink drawing the strategic placement of lines. I love the challenge of creating depth in an image using lines alone, though there is no such thing as a line in nature.

I love the delicacy of watercolor, a medium that has a mind of its own, that lends a certain brightness to your subject when you’re done.

And I love the traditional look I can achieve with acrylic. The thicker medium calls to mind most peoples’ idea of what a painting “should” look like. 
An Afro-Triangle original watercolor portrait. Find out more here.


Do you feel your art connects the different cultural and social influences in your life? Can you tell us more about how if it does?

I think it does. My tendency is to draw or paint realistically, so most of my work is based on photographs. Most of these have been photos I have taken myself, of friends or of people in a place I happened to be.

I think I also capture the universality of what it is to be human. I love painting expression and no matter where you are in the world, what your cultural background, our expressions hold the same meanings. A frown means you’re unhappy about something, a smile expresses joy. We are all working with the same five features.

What's your favorite work of art(either by yourself or someone else)?

It’s so hard to pin down one specific piece… Yeah, I’m gonna have to pass.

Can you tell us a little about your etsy shop? What kinds of items are available there?(Quick note, SweetShoppers...etsy is an online craft and design bazaar. If you don't know about it, you should!)

I am very new to Etsy, so my shop is still growing. Portraits are the main listing right now. I offer custom portraits in a variety of media, as well as a series of what I call Geek-tastic celebrity portraits in which I have drawn characters from my favorite sci-fi/fantasy television shows and movies. There are also a few of the t-shirts I have designed and printed so far.
Any Supernatural fans in the house? Purchase this one and more like it here


Have you got any live exhibitions coming up soon? Can you tell us anything about that?

Glad you asked! I have a show starting on January 1st at  Love Sick Ink, a tattoo parlor off Broadway and Iliff.  It runs until January 31st and it would be great to see new people there. Keep an eye on the Afro Triangle Facebook page and website for more information.

So there you have it, SweetShoppers--hope you enjoyed being introduced to Adrienne as much as I enjoyed doing the interview. If you want to know more, check out the official Afro Triangle Designs website HERE and like and follow on Facebook HERE. If you want to purchase your very own Afro Triangle Designs shirt or portrait, check out the etsy shop HERE. There's also some very cool shirts available to purchase only on the official site. Many thanks to Adrienne for your time and best of luck with your future art and business!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Taking good pictures...

I've been struggling with my photographic mojo lately, and thought I'd share some dismal failures in the photography department to show you what I mean.

I made a gorgeous headband/fingerless glove set for a client who didn't want the items worn by a model but did want pictures of the items. Given that I was in the throes of an intercontinental move and had no real work space, I pulled out my trusty camera, a suitably colorful last minute surface, and came up with...


This. What, pray tell, are those lumpish purple things? And the background? My bedsheets and other assorted messes. How dreadful.

My first thought was that maybe the shot would be improved by being a little closer on the items. So I tried again and got...

Well...it's certainly closer. At this point it was about 1 am, and I was rapidly giving up on consciousness, so I gave up and sent the client the second image and promised better quality ones when I had a chance to take some daylight photos. 

Surprise, surprise...she bought the items based on these images. 

I guess I'm making this post to reassure myself and fellow perfectionist crafters that sometimes, it's more important to get the content OUT there than it is to make sure it's perfect. In this case, the client had a pretty good idea of what she was getting and really just wanted a photo to confirm the order was done. There's no way I would use this image for an etsy listing or any other promotional effort if they weren't already spoken for...BUT I guess I'm learning that not everything has to be magazine ready to sell.

I still WANT everything to be magazine ready, of course. But it doesn't always have to be. 

Meanwhile, I am reading blogs and watching videos on how to become a better photographer. And sharing my mini-failure up here to solicit commiseration from other crafters, bloggers, and sellers...have you ever had something that you just *couldn't* get right?

Peace, beautiful people!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SweetShop Creations is still blogging...

Hey friendly neighborhood SweetShoppers! Don't know if any of you have had a chance to peek at the etsy shop or the Twitter lately, but I'm taking a little break from online sales. I've just completed a very definite intercontinental move and am thinking of doing some different things with the shop. That means there won't be any SweetShop items available in the shop until after Christmas, but never fear...you can always contact me for a custom order HERE if you have a specific item in mind or buy an Etsy gift card HERE.

I'll still be blogging here about all my personal crafting in the meantime. Trust me, now that I'm not making loads of ready made hats, I'll be doing TONS! I still haven't finished my winter sweater from last year!

In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of a crochet turkey courtesy of Crochet Spot and check out the pattern HERE.


Cute, isn't he? 

Peace, beautiful people!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Handmade Product Update: Pamper and Preen

So I thought I'd do a quick update on Pamper and Preen's Honey Caramel soap, which I reviewed last week. I've been using the soap about a week or two now, and a few things have become obvious;

1)I won't be buying this soap again. The next two items are why.

2)It is, ultimately, VERY drying. Although at first it didn't seem to have much of an effect, prolonged usage has turned me into Mel, Master of Ash and Flakes. Personally, I have dry skin and I HATE that tight stripped feeling I get after using a drying product. I've had that after every shower so far this week, aand I don't like it. Thank God for cocoa butter.

3)It doesn't last long. I've been using the bar of soap for two weeks, and it is less than half the size it initially was. I'm very careful to store my soap in a covered dish, so it's not stray water causing this.

Overall, this was nice to try, and I'm glad I could support a local handmade seller with a stray £5. But I won't be doing it again.

Peace!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Buy Handmade: Pamper And Preen

Look, at this point I'm not even going to bother apologizing for how long it's been since I've updated this blog. I'm doing a full-time MA, I have a part time job, and I also have *Bill Cosby voice* FIVE other blogs. Count them, one, two, three, four, five! And while that's really no excuse for being a lazy and unreliable craft blogger...that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So what's brought me out of Dreadful Blog Silence? Another excellent handmade vendor, that's what.

So, as you can imagine, I spend a lot of time on etsy.com, perusing other people's wonderful wares. As you can guess from the SweetShop mission statement, I am vey passionate about handmade items and supporting sustainable development, wherever that may be. The third leg in the tripod of my personal stance on buying and selling is supporting local makers and sellers as well. So, usually, my trip to etsy starts with me clicking the "Shop Local" button on the left hand side of the page.

And that is how I came across Pamper & Preen soaps. Usually I buy handmade items because of a personal connection to the maker or particular aesthetics or ideals. This time, it simply was a matter of hey, I'm out of soap, they live in Manchester too, and I have 5 extra pounds in my account this week.

I bought Pamper & Preen's Honey Caramel Cold Process soap for £2.85 plus an additional £2.46 shipping. YIKES at the shipping, right? Especially since they're right around the corner, practically. But because I've recently been all but forced to charge exorbitant shipping rates for my own products, I feel a bit more charitable about such things and went ahead and paid it. For the most part I'm glad I did.
The Honey Caramel soap looks pretty much it does on Pamper & Preen's site...so no surprises there. It has a deep, sweet fragrance with hints of vanilla and coconut as well as honey and caramel. The bottom edge is scattered with a sprinkling of black seens. I'm not exactly sure WHAT they are, but they're great for exfoliating and they haven't turned my skin green yet, so they don't bother me. This is what it looks like unpackaged;



I bought this soap because I have dry, sensitive skin and I need something that cleans my grimy self without turning me into Mel, Master of Ash and Flakes. This soap pretty much fits the bill...it gets me clean. It smells lovely, although the scent doesn't stick around for very long. And while I haven't been using it for very long, it hasn't dried out my skin, which I definitely appreciate it. I do slather on a thick moisturizer afterwards though, so if you aren't an after-bath lotioner, you might not have the same results.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm damning Pamper & Preen with faint praise...I'm not intending to. It's a beautifully made bar of soap, and while it doesn't exceed my expectations it meets them very well. If you like handmade soaps and want to pamper yourself with a lovely scented bar of soap, I'd recommend giving Pamper & Preen a visit HERE.

Peace beautiful people!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and the Downright Frustrating...

Greetings SweetShoppers!

So let's start with the good...

Image Source: Councillor Simon Killane

 
--First of all, the SweetShop is back up and running! Check us out here, as always. You'll notice some big changes--there are some new and different items being offered and a pretty hefty clearance section. The biggest change for you(the customer) is that domestic shipping is no longer free and all shipping costs have gone up substantially. This was a big decision for me to make--I'd felt previously that international shipping shouldn't add a third or more onto the price of a wonderful handmade item, and local shoppers should be rewarded for their conscientiousness with lower delivery costs. However, it was taking an unacceptably long time for some customers to receive their purchases, and the budget shipping options I was using are untrackable. With that in mind, I've decided to send all parcels--international and domestic--using trackable mail. It's important to me and you that you receive your items on time and in one piece!
--The second good thing is that SweetShop Creations is slowly becoming tri-lingual! Listings on the etsy page are now available in English and French. SweetShop Patterns...most notably the Raspberry Beret..are now available in English on this blog and in Spanish translation thanks to the lovely  Hasta El Monyo. To see SweetShop patterns in Spanish, click HERE.
Es la boina frambuesa. Horale!
Now for the bad...and the downright frustrating...

--Really there's only one thing, but it's a biggie--I am having massive issues with my computer and camera. This is my usual bugaboo--my desire for technology far outweighs the level of what I can competently use or afford, for that matter. While those issues are being resolved, updates to the shop will not be happening at the grand scale I was hoping for, and they'll also be quite slow. (Although, that is nothing new at all...). Thanks for your patience with me, SweetShoppers...I guess this is my cue to step up my pattern writing and other skills. It's also your cue to buy lots of hats and earrings to help me reach my computer repair goals. (Was that begging? I prefer to call it needs-based advertising...I think...)

Stay tuned for more blogging updates, SweetShoppers! Peace!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A little sneak preview...

As some of you know, most of the items in the SweetShop are on sale right now, making way for new and different designs as of February 1st.

Oh. You didn't know that? Well, now ya do. Head over to SweetShop Creations, take a peruse, pick up a few clearance priced items. Aside from a few signature items, they'll be gone come the first of February.

Meanwhile, I'm working hard(ly?) creating new designs for next month. I just finished one that I thought I'd give a little sneak preview of...please pardon the blurry, sickly-lit photos.

Haven't come up with a name for it yet, but it's basically a cozy, snuggly shawl...

With a handy drawstring! This way you can change the fit depending on how you wear it...looser for a shawl or cape, tighter for a cowl...the possibilities are endless!

Speaking of which, I think I got a little carried away playing with the drawstring...
Hey, I'm warm!

Look out for this original item and more by SweetShop Creations in February! And meanwhile, head over to the shop and get the (old) good stuff before it's gone!