Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Share the Love Wednesdays: Pirate Kat's Booty

This week I had the opportunity to interview Donna Day from Pirate Kat's Booty.  She has a great selection of jewelry for yourself or your pets! 

Siren Song

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hmm ok... let’s see... I grew up in California but married a Canadian, so I packed up my two cats and now live in Ontario. I've done everything from running a comic book shop to working in TV and radio, both on air and off. I have worked in senior care, child care, and pet care. I'm a gamer girl and a proud geek. I am now the owner of Pirate Kat's Booty, my jewelry shop. I make hand crafted jewelry for men, women, kids and pets. I am also branching out into key chains, book marks, zipper pulls, and charms for cellphones, tablets, and readers.

How long have you been making jewelry?

Pretty much all my life. I started stringing beads when I was a kid, then made macramé style jewelry when I was in Girl Scouts. I did some wire work in art classes in high school. Now I'm doing beadwork jewelry and branching into other styles.

Icy Brilliance
Pacific Passion

I love the Icy BrillianceWhich design is your favourite?

Wow, tough one. I'd say this week it is Pacific Passion. If you ask me again next week it will probably be something else. The jewelry I make reflects my mood, so every day something else is going to be my “favourite.”

What time of day do you do most of your creating?

Most of my creating is done in the evenings, when I can relax and just enjoy what I do.

What made you start selling on Etsy?

I started making things as gifts for friends and family. After about the 20th person said “You need to open an Etsy shop! Your work is beautiful!” I finally checked it out and opened my shop. Good thing too... I hadn't realized just how much jewelry I had made just in my spare time.

What was the first item that you sold?

First item I sold was a Southwest style charm bracelet made with polished stone beads and silver stars with western themed charms.

Do you have a work space that you do your work at?
I used to say I did a little beading in my Home office. Now when I look around my “office” and see more beads than office supplies. 

Where else can people find you? i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about you or your shop?

Everything in the shop is hand made by myself or a member of the shop extended family. It is then thoroughly inspected by the Pirate Kats, Solo and Shadow. We take commissions, so if there is a custom piece you need just hit me up. I've even done matching bracelets for bridesmaids and kids birthday parties. I am a firm supporter of small business and buying hand made. I love supporting artisans and really encourage everyone to find something they enjoy and do it!  
Major thank you to Wicked, Doni, David, Erna and Marie!

                                            Grey Galleons of Grandure

Thank you Donna Day for taking the time to do this interview!  I had a great time looking at all of the items in your shop.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Share the Love Wednesdays: Cottage Shades

Welcome to the first weekly Share the Love Wednesdays post!  Each and every week we will feature an interview with an Etsy shop located in Ontario, Canada.  This weeks interview is with Karina Clark from Cottage Shades!  You can find her Etsy shop here:

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A. My name is Karina Clark and my shop is Cottage Shades. I make quality handcrafted lamps, lampshades, and pillows in Newmarket, Ontario. 

Q. Can you describe cottage style decorating and how you started incorporating it into your designs?

A. I have always had a keen interest in decorating, with a particular fondness for “Cottage Style,” where the English countryside blooms in beautiful floral patterns, overstuffed chairs, and casual elegance—and,most often, pretty lamps adorned with lovely fabric lampshades!  Beyond aesthetic appeal and practicality, Cottage Style boasts diversity: it isn't bound to any specific setting, and this flexibility allows it to be adopted by any home, anywhere. Cottage Style’s practical roots are often overlooked in lieu of its more romantic qualities—the floral prints, the pastel palettes, the painted furniture.

Q. How long have you been making home decor items?

A. Several years ago my husband and I purchased a small 1950’s bungalow in a beautiful mature area of our great Town. While undergoing extensive renovations, I had some furniture reupholstered, and with the leftover fabric, I had a lampshade recovered. Instantly I knew I wanted to learn how! For me, switching a plain white shade for one with beautiful fabric on it just warms the room, gives it personality. After my son was born, I left my full-time job and Cottage Shades was formed. This is my sixth year in business. Much of my business comes through custom work, and I also love creating my own designs, which reflect my love of Cottage Style.

Q. I love the Ralph Lauren 12" x 18" Muskoka pillows.  Which design is your favourite?

A. My Mason jar lamps are my original design, and the first thing I began selling. They are especially unique when topped with a Muskoka or Georgian Bay lampshade, made with fabric designed by my sister-in-law and recognized throughout Ontario’s Cottage Country. I make them in different sizes and my clients love to fill them with their own personal collections: shells, rocks, pine cones...

Q. What time of day do you do most of your creating?

A. I design and have a professional wood turner make, and my unique paint colors which I mix myself. I am always creating; lovely things in our day-to-day lives inspire my creativity even when I’m not in my studio. This past year, I began making decorative pillows to complement or coordinate with my lampshades. Each one of my pillows, as with my lampshades, is a one-of-a-kind creation.

There is nothing easier or more emotionally satisfying than creating the Cottage Style look; there is nothing pretentious about it, rather, it is the embodiment of everything casual, comfortable, calm, and soothing. After all, your physical environment is an integral part to your happiness.

Q. Do you have a work space that you do your work at?

A. When I’m not being a wife or mother, I am in my studio. One of the other perks of working from home is having time for my other passion, which is triathlon. I am honoured to have represented Canada at the World Championships four times!

Q. I see from your Etsy shop that you have an upcoming show on April 12th! Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

I will be at the Made By Hand Show on April 12th, at the International Centre in Toronto. Etsy is a wonderful tool for getting exposure and meeting people that share the same passions and style. My shop is During the summer months I can be found in Muskoka, at the Port Carling Farmers Market and the Bala Farmers Market. This year I will also be a guest vendor at the Rosseau Market. I love being part of these markets, meeting and speaking with my customers, and helping them create beautifully personalized spaces of their own. I am also on Facebook, at, and on Pinterest, hope you stop by for a visit.

Thank you so much Karina for taking the time for this interview and I hope everyone has a chance to make it over to her shop.  She really does have some really lovely items for sale!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Caring For Your Knit and Crochet Items

Have you been given or purchased a wonderful hand knitted or crocheted item, but you have absolutely NO idea how to care for it?  Then this blog post is for you!

Hand knit and crochet items are actually surprisingly easy to care for.  The first step is to figure out what materials the item was made from.  If you have access to the original yarn label it has all of the care information on the label, but if you purchased or were given a complete item, sometimes these things are missing.  I've listed the typical care instructions for most of the major types of yarn below:


Acrylic yarns are usually the easiest to care for.  In most cases you can just pop it in the washing machine and dryer with no problems.  Some acrylics may have suggestions about what temperature the water needs to be and the settings used.  If you weren't given the recommended settings from the person who made it and there is no way to check, then I would stick to gentle settings and lower temperatures.  Or just hand wash it and lay flat to dry.


Unless the item is made from superwash wool, you'll want to hand wash these items and lay flat to dry.


Some cottons can be machine washed.  I would use gentle settings and lower temperatures whenever possible.  This will prevent your items from stretching, shrinking or the yarn from breaking.

Unknown Fibers:

If you are completely unsure what your item is made from, then I would hand wash and lay flat to dry.

What exactly does "hand wash and lay flat to dry" mean?

You can use a variety of places to do this.  You can use your kitchen sink, laundry tub or even your washing machine.  You first need to make sure that your work area is clean.  If you are using your kitchen sink to do this, make sure it is clean.  I usually wash the sink out with dish soap and then inspect to make sure all debris and dish soap are gone before I fill it with water.  You don't want the water to be cold or hot.  Luke warm is best.  You'll want to fill your sink or washing machine with water before you put your hand knit or crochet items in.  Make sure that if you are using the washing machine that it is not running before you put your knits in.  You are only using the washing machine to soak your items.  You will use the fill cycle and then halt the machine and leave your items to soak.

You'll ideally want them to soak for at least 15-20 minutes.  This will allow the fibers to get completely wet and soaked through.  The yarn will relax in the bath.  You don't want to wring or agitate the water (especially if it is wool).  You'll just gently push the knitted or crocheted item into the water and let it soak.  You can use specially formulated products for hand knitted and crocheted items like Eucalan, Soak, or Kookaburra.  The bottles will tell you how much to add.  Make sure that you use only the recommended amount.

Once your item has been soaking for at least 15-20 minutes then you can take it out.  If you are using a sink, then make sure that you drain the water first and then press the item into the sink (again don't wring or otherwise distort the fabric).  Try to get out as much of the water as possible in this stage.  Another good tip is to get a high absorbency towel and roll the item into it.  Then you can squeeze or even stand on the towel to get even more water out.  Once you've got all the water that you can out of the item then you lay it flat to dry in an area that will not be disturbed.  This is a good time to make sure that the item is the proper shape as it is drying.  You can pat it into place while its wet and it'll hold that shape once it is dry.

If you are using the washing machine, then you can skip to the "spin only" cycle.  This will spin the items to get rid of the water.  Make sure it is only spinning and not agitating.  From there you pretty much proceed in the same way.  You lay your item out to dry patting it in place to make sure that it is the proper dimensions again.  I like to have my items laying on dry towels so that they absorb the water and turn my items about halfway through drying.

The drying time will take about a day for most items.  If they are smaller then they might even be done in a couple of hours.

It's that simple!  One last thing, never ever hang your hand knits.  This will stretch the fabric.  Make sure you fold them and put them away.

If you have any questions about washing your hand knit or crocheted items, please feel free to comment!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Making Of.... Crochet Baby Blanket

A behind the scenes look at how this baby blanket was made!

Maybe you've seen my Instagram posts and wondered more about the process of making it.  Or you've been following my Facebook page.  Or maybe you've seen it for sale on my Etsy page.  It doesn't really matter how you've gotten here, but I hope you will stay and learn a little bit more.

The blanket is made up of a whole bunch of different crocheted motifs and attached together using different methods.  For some of the blocks I used single crochet to join and others I used join as you go techniques and still others were alternating joins.  It was actually a lot of fun to try out different joins to see which ones I liked best.  (By the way, the continuous final round join as you go technique won HANDS DOWN).

It was made from Knitca Wavy 100% cotton yarn.  I love the bright and cheerful colourways.  I used white, light blue, light yellow and lime green in this blanket.  (I will be soon adding Knitca yarns to my Etsy shop so watch out for those changes coming soon).

This is a picture of me getting ready to start one of the join as you go techniques.  You can see the completed block on the left and then the partially completed blocks on the right.  The idea is that you join the partially competed ones at the same time as doing the final round for that block.  It really is a lot of fun.

Once all of the joins were completed for the different sections then I had to attach all of the sections together and do the border around the whole blanket. 

I think it turned out beautifully and I hope that you enjoyed this blog post on the making of!