Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Featured Artist: Makena Lei Creations

I found this great etsy artist the other day while browsing and decided to feature her shop on my blog. The artist is Shelley and her shop is Makena Lei Creations. (Shelley has another etsy shop called HanaSakura Designs). I love Shelley's colorful, simple, crisp designs. Enjoy!

Chili Pepper Fused Glass Earrings

Tell me a bit about yourself
Well, how do I start. I absolutely LOVE being creative. Creative is good and it keeps my mind busy. I always have about 10 artistic projects going on at all times, so it's good to have an outlet. I enjoy painting, drawing, bead making, gardening, fusing, making stained glass, boating, traveling, horseback riding and spending time with my wonderful Hubby, Dan. :) We got married in Maui, Hawai'i, on a very large lava cliff overlooking the gorgeous turquoise blue Pacific. "Ah...Paradise". We went back to Hawai'i for our Anniversary a few years back. It's just as gorgeous the 2nd time around. Hawai'i has inspired most of the items in both shops.

How long have you been making glass jewelry?
I've been making glass jewelry for about 2-3 years now. I started by making my own beads but it somehow evolved into fusing. I got bit by the fusing "bug" and haven't looked back. I just recently started playing around with the colorful and whimsical "Bullseye" glass that I use in my "Makena'lei Creations" jewelry. It's SO much fun and I love getting peoples' reactions to it! :)

Are you self-taught or did you study glass design?
I'm pretty much self-taught. I took a 2 hour class on how to use a kiln. (safety-kind of thing). I didn't want to mess with a kiln that can go up to 2400 degrees without first learning how to use it! I just came home with some scrap glass and started melting. That's how this all came about. I just played around with colors and learned what to do and what NOT to do. Lots of cuts and glass slivers later, I've created both of my Etsy jewelry shops. And I'm having an absolute BLAST!!

Which three pieces in your etsy shop(s)are your favorite?
Not sure if I can choose favorites. I love all the pieces that come out of the kiln. (I'm always wrestling with myself on keeping everything or selling some of it.) I guess if I had to choose....

Purple dichroic iris pendant (From my Hana Sakura Designs shop)

My "Anime Cat" pendant (Makena'lei Creations)

"Watermelon" pendant (Makena'lei Creations)

What's great about working with glass?
The best part of working with glass is watching the faces of people who see the pieces when they are finished. That's the best part. Glass makes people happy and smile when they get to see it and touch it. That's probably why I love working with it. There's just something magical about creating little works of art from different pieces of glass and melting them. They just feel good to touch and they make you feel good when you wear them. Glass is a wonderful medium!!

Name two of your favorite etsy shops
Two of my favorite etsy shops are probably "Gypsy Rose Handbags" and "Sarah Lynne Designs", but I have SO many favorites! So many incredibly talented people on Etsy, I just feel honored to be among them. :)
Thanks Shelley!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I'm having my third giveaway!
Some of you may wonder why?

Why would I just give away a cashmere necklet
with handknitted wool brooch?

There are many reasons that I like to do giveaways.
Firstly, and most obviously, it increases traffic to
my blog (let's be honest!).
Secondly, if you're wearing one of my creations someone
may like it and ask where you bought it (exposure).
Third, I really love the thought that one of
my creations is keeping someone cozy and chic!
I have so many handmade creations that I can afford
to give away one every few weeks for free!

This necklet is handknitted from 100% cashmere
from a Scottish cashmere mill. The detachable brooch
has handknitted leaves from all types of wool and other
yarns. The necklet is made to fit a smallish neck -
probably one between 10 and 12 inches.

All you have to do to enter my giveaway is:

1) Be a follower and leave a comment below
2) If you have a blog, include a link to my shop
in your blog.

That's all! Good luck. I will draw the winner from
a hat next Friday October 9th).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fingerless Gloves

Even though items knit up much faster with big yarn and big needles, I'll always prefer the feel of little needles and fine yarn. When I first started seriously knitting at about age 13 or 14 I knitted lots of fine lace and intarsia patterns with 4 ply/fingering weight yarn. Of course it would take much too long to knit a big article for selling on 4 or 5mm needles so that's why I've been making so many fingerless gloves lately. I especially love using luxury yarns such as cashmere and silk. I also love being able to add cute ribbons and buttons to my gloves - the icing on the cake!
I have about 14 pairs of fingerless gloves listed on Etsy and have more still to list. Here are my top three favorites.
I knitted these last month in Scotland - I think I might be a femme Vampiress wannabe because I picture myself as a sexy Elvira in a black dress wearing these to some dark ball (while drinking Pernod and Blackcurrant). Purrrrrrrr.......

I think I'm also a bit of a goth wannabe because I imagine myself sporting dark lipstick, pale foundation, and black doc martins, listening to the Cure in some trendy NYC bar while wearing these:
And I also really want to be very feminine and chic. I actually had my nails polished (for the 2nd time ever) to take pics of my hands in these gloves. It took me forever to get the dye stains off my fingers! I would probably wear these with jeans and a leather jacket so as not to overdo the whole feminine ruffle look. Just a touch would be perfect!

Back to Blogging!

I've been very neglectful of my blog lately. Shame on me! When I was in Scotland in August I did post one blog but my mum's computer is so painfully slow I just couldn't bear to wait 2 minutes for each photo to download (I brought my laptop but couldn't get online).

Since I returned I've been so busy - school clothes and supplies, shopping, cleaning, etc., and work has been totally hectic. I somehow decided to completely re-do my kitchen in the middle of all this busyness too and worked non-stop painting, shopping for doodads at Ikea, and laying lino tile - for 4 days straight. My Etsy business has picked up so I've been quite busily knitting custom orders. BUT....I'm going to get back into the blogging again. I decided to post a few
photos of my trip to Scotland. Here's one of me carrying my mum's old (though adorable)
Scotty dog up the Mound in Edinburgh. She was too tired to walk any more - she's a heavy
lump and it was exhausting.

We did a lot of walking - up hills, along the cobbled streets in Edinburgh (it was the festival - lots of fun!), along beaches, and through woods.

Here's one of my daughter and Scotty dog Meg walking very companionably along one of the beaches.

We took the 'Harry Potter Train' - the Jacobite Express - from Fort William to Mallaig. The kids loved it, especially the part where we crossed Glennfinnan Viaduct, which is shown in a couple of
the Harry Potter movies. Here's my son on the train trying to see past all the steam.

Of course we saw a few castles - there are so many in Scotland!
Here's a picture of Urquhart Castle which we stopped off at on the way to Fort William.

Here's a night time picture of Edinburgh Castle during the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (marching bands from all over the world and other performances)

Will blog again soon. Promise!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My 2nd Blog Giveaway!

I've decided to have another giveaway. This necklet is handknitted from a lovely thick, soft wool blend yarn that I hand-dyed a soft, pale gray. It has been embellished with a kid silk and mohair ruffle with tiny raindrop sequins and has been finished with a shabby chic hand-dyed silk ribbon. It attaches at the back with a cute button. This is a lovely accessory to wear somewhere nice on a cold night.

All you have to do to win the necklet is:

1. Be a follower/follow me.
2. Leave a brief comment telling me which item in my etsy shop is your favorite and why.

That's all you have to do! I will draw the winner's name out of a hat on Thursday September 10th.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wilma's Beautiful Garden

I've been in Scotland since Thursday
and have been busy every day.
Today we're taking it easy and I decided
to take some photos of my
mum's cute country garden.

It's the perfect place to sit and knit!
I'm off to do that right now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bonnie Scotland

Only 5 days to go! I leave Wednesday 10pm from Newark Airport. I can't wait, and my kids are so excited to be visiting gran and her adorable wee scottie, Meg.

The first thing we do when we arrive at my mum's cottage is have a big fry-up in her beautiful country kitchen; scottish sausages, black pudding, bacon, eggs, tatty scones, mushrooms, and lots of cups of tea. My mum always has a big glass jar full of home-made fairycakes for afterwards. My mouth is watering just thinking of the feast! My diet will definitely have to go out the window.

After my nap we usually go for a walk. My mum lives in a rural area with fantastic hikes and great views right outside her door. I love all the sheep and their constant m-a-a-a-a-ba-a-a-ing (although you have to watch where you put your feet!)

My favorite part of going to Scotland is the peaceful walks every day. My kids love it too. Walks usually include a wee seat with our knitting while the kids play in a field.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some Of My Favorite Etsy Photos

I've blogged about how difficult it can be taking product photography for my Etsy site. Some sellers do a fantastic job of this and their photos really make their items stand out from the rest of the crowd. I browsed Etsy for an hour or so the other day and tagged these photos as my favorites. I would love to eventually be able to take such great pics!
The talented surrealist artist Jen Fries displays her exquisitely made books, art boxes and journals with moody, atmospheric photos. I love the way the light casts mysterious shadows and I also love how in this photo the artist has included an ordinary object - the pencil - which not only gives an indication of size, it very subtly has become an integral part of the composition.


Talented glass designer Michelle Prosek personally carves, fuses, and shapes every single piece of glass to ensure that they are all one of a kind works of art. I like the organic, minimalist feel of this piece and love the colors - deep purple and a pink which makes me think of the '50s (Michelle described it as a 'cheeky pink'). I think Michelle captured this incredible work of art expertly in this clear, crisp photograph with no background distractions.

Leaf Pod Ring by Kathi Roussel

The simplicity of Kathi Roussel's beautiful jewelry attracted me to her store. Her work is shown to advantage in her artistic photographs, many of which are taken with colorful dolls' house furniture as props.

I love the way Kathi focuses on only part of her product and lets everything else fade into the background - it creates interest and draws the viewer in.

Parisian jewelry artist Sundra Sandrusi has photographed this exquisitely fine bracelet in delicately suffused light. It evokes feelings of yesteryear and medieval times for me and somehow makes me think of a perfect spring morning: Just beautiful photography!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I do like the summer. I love going to the Jersey Shore to play in the huge waves with my boogie board. I like not having to rush to get the kids off to school first thing in the morning on my days off. I love seeing my neighbors on a regular basis, drinking wine on decks while watching the kids play in tree-houses or blow-up pools.

(I’m always amazed that several weeks can go by during the winter without a glimpse of neighbors).

I certainly don’t want to wish away the rest of this beautiful summer -life is far too short for that- but I have to admit that I am looking forward to autumn, and not only for the lovely leafy combinations of burnt umber, yellow ochre, and pumpkin orange. The reason I’m excited about the thought of autumn arriving is because people in the Northern Hemisphere start to think about warmer clothes and cozy accessories, and for some of those people, specifically KNITTED accessories!

I’ve been happily and busily knitting away for the last couple of months in anticipation of the fall, and have so many ideas I wish I had bionic fingers that could knit a scarf in 10 minutes! Here are a couple of the items that I will be posting within a few weeks:

...I'd better get some knitting done now!

Friday, July 17, 2009


To everyone who entered my drawing, this morning I wrote all your names on little pieces of paper and had one of my kids pull one out of a hat). THEA is the winner! Thea's favorite was the Wine and Charcoal corsage so this is what she will receive. Congratulations Thea - please contact me with your address and I will send ASAP.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Please check my blog regularly as I will be having giveaways once or twice per month.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I'm having my first blog giveaway! To win one of the following corsages:

Hand-made from layers of hand-felted wool roving in hues of gray and rust/wine. The centerpiece is a delightful array of bright beads, including Swarovsky crystals. Measures 4" in height.


Made from layers of blue organza hand-singed petals. A beautiful swarovsky crystal button finishes this off perfectly.Measures 5" in diameter. Backed with felt and a 1" brooch pin.

All you have to do is:

1. Follow my blog

2. Leave a comment stating which corsage you like best (Charcoal & Wine or Blue Organza)

I will announce the winner (picked from hat) on Friday July 18th. Good luck!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Taking Etsy Photographs is Mentally and Physically Exhausting!

I spent about 9 or 10 hours yesterday taking photographs for my Etsy site. I have a bunch of new handknits that I want to list in time for fall, for example, this fair isle capelet:

I also wanted to redo some of the slightly out-of-focus photographs that I currently have on Etsy. This big photograph-taking day was planned for about a week and in preparation I had bought a tripod, white foam core, and a craft light. I had researched as much as possible about taking crisp, clear photos. I had also stripped, sanded, re-stained and varnished the wooden thing at the top of my dress form as that was pretty dented and scuffed from all the times I dropped it.

After dropping the kids off at camp I was ready. The light was perfect; bright but not sunny, and I had a full day to myself to indulge and experiment! I ran around; inside and out, upstairs and downstairs, setting up my backdrop, dress form, white foam core, tripod, and craft light in my yard, and brought up several big boxes of handknits from the basement. By the time everything was set up my heart was pumping and I was literally soaked with sweat.

I took about 150 + photos over the next hour or two, experimenting with locations, positions, EV shift and white balance. The phone rang about 6 times during my photo session, so that meant running indoors a lot, and I had one work call to deal with which took up about 10 minutes of my precious time. However, I was pleased and happy - the photos looked pretty good on the teeny digital camera screen and I felt sure they would look fantastic with some editing. So when the (darn) sun came out from behind a cloud, ruining the perfect light, I ran inside and downloaded my photos, expecting to see nothing but crisp, clear perfection.

But boy, was I disappointed. The majority of the photographs were worse than the ones I had taken without all these props. Some were actually hideous; all dark and fuzzy. I edited perhaps 10 photos worthy of listing out of that whole bunch, and those 10 were definitely no better than any of my older photographs.

By now Mr. Sun was fully out so I decided to take photos of my corsages indoors in my bright, yet not sunny dining room and spent the next half hour setting up in there, then another hour taking photos. Again though, the majority of my photographs were disappointing, although I did get a few that I liked after editing, for example, this one:

By now I had to leave to pick my kids up from camp. Back home after snacks. the kids were happily playing outside in the bright sunlight with super soakers, which keeps them busy for hours, so I decided to take photos of some of my new gloves indoors.... But first I had to scrub my nails, file the ragged edges, apply clear polish, shave my arms, and apply lotion and a little foundation to make them anywhere near decent.

I experimented until dinnertime with many different hand positions, some of which required a great deal of flexibility and dexterity. I used different backgrounds, and experimented with my tripod and camera self-timer, taking photos of both hands from above. I sat on the floor with my hands in the air. I stood with my hands twisted to the side in front of white foam core trying desperately not to knock it over for the 20th time. I tried different props, such as big earthy mugs, and cookies. I almost heated up some tomato soup to use as another 'winter is cozy when you have nice fingerless gloves' prop but was so exhausted at that point I just couldn't muster up the energy to hunt for the tin. I took about 400 photographs and was semi-pleased with only about 24 after editing. Here are a couple of photos that I ended up with:

So, after all that mental and physical exhaustion I still have only about 25% of the photographs I need to be ready for the fall (when people start to think about woolly things). Considering the fact that I'll be in Scotland for almost the entire month of August and have lots of day and weekend activities planned for the rest of July, I'm starting to panic slightly. Phew...... that's all I can say.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some of My Favorite Etsy Shops

I recently had some time to browse through Etsy and would like to share these delightful items that I added to 'my favorites':

This is the cutest keyring, made by Glasgow-based Etsy fiber artist FieldyTweed. It is made from the most beautiful 100% genuine Harris tweed from a mill in Scotland that closed down recently. Fortunately it looks like Fieldy bought up almost the entire mill beforehand so she will be able to make plenty more keyrings, ipod covers, and pincushions in a multitude of colors and patterns. I adore Scotties (my mum has the best wee Scottie called Meg), and I love a great quality tweed. I agree with Fieldy who says that Harris Tweed is "the most beautiful and unique fabric in the world - but then I am a little biased!"



I love this tiny canvas print of two little girls busily knitting away. Makes me think of days gone by and it almost makes me wish that kids still knitted socks for their entire families.
Tali, the talented artist from Bezalel who created this, has an Etsy shop called Tush Tush. There are so many wonderful little prints on canvas that I would love to have on my wall. I actually ordered this one which I first discovered on the front page of Etsy. I can't wait till it arrives.



Wrist Cuff Queen Annes Lace In Pink Silk Hand Embroidery

This delicate wrist cuff by Waterrose is such a work of art. I love the way the exquisitely detailed, pale pink embroidery is highlighted by the perfectly placed little red beads. The creator of Waterrose was influenced and inspired by her mother, an embroidery artisan, and by her grandmother, a quilter. Waterrose also sells embroidered rings and earrings in her shop - all very unique and beautiful. These pieces are so obviously created with skill, patience and love and the finishing is just perfect.

This slightly disturbing but beautiful image was created by A Cabinet of Curiosities. The artist creates the most amazing digital collages using a variety of images. This is an original digital collage created using elements from the Haeckle images, DaVinci sketchbook, Galileo sketchbook, and one of the artist's own photographs. The digital images can be printed on your own media. A digital file is sent to you via email and you print on paper of your choosing to a size of your choosing. A Cabinet of Curiosities sells lot of digital copies of prints by Haeckle which I find fascinating, such as the following image, called "Asteridea."

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I love making polymer clay buttons. They're perfect for budding polymer clay artists who don't have much time (because every other second is spent knitting), don't require lots of expensive supplies, and are great for embellishing hand-knits when you need that perfect button. For example, sometimes I want a button to completely blend in with the background yarn, like this one:

Shy Mole

Sometimes I want a showpiece button that compliments the background colors nicely like this one:

Lemonade Rain

Sometimes I want a button that is somewhere in-between:

Grape Conifer

You can make all types of faux buttons with polymer clay for much less than you would pay for the real thing:

Faux Wood

You can actually do more or less anything you want with polymer clay, all it takes is imagination


Swirly Pink