Monday, December 27, 2010

Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap! (OK, a little more than 50 cents a cap).

Finally, I finished two hats and managed to post them on my etsy site!  Thanks to the blizzard I had some extra time to do a little bit of work.  I've been selling  quite a few of my hats locally, so this is my first time selling the hats online.  I hope people like them.

As for the jewelry, we have much to celebrate because thanks to two of my wonderful friends out in Cali, I made my first etsy sales a few days ago.  It has been amazing to see it all work.  They choose which pieces they want, click, click, click, I get paid, I send it out, it's all good.  Although, I must admit that since the blizzard snowed me in, their packages will be sent early tomorrow morning instead of today.  I think they'll understand.

It actually worked out great because it gave me a chance to include our hilarious holiday cards (see above photo).  It  is not even 9:00 pm yet, so I think I'll be headed to the local packy and buying a bottle of wine to celebrate my etsy sales and hat postings.  Thinking of you and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Going Global and My First Employee

Finally, after many months of brainstorming, creating, schmoozing, uploading photos and painstakingly writing descriptions, my etsy site is up.  Phew!  All of those details were really starting to drive me crazy. Months ago, when I first thought about opening up a shop on etsy I thought that it would be fairly easy. I hadn't really thought what a PIA it might be to take a decent photo (they still need work, but are acceptable for now) or how to figure out shipping and handling costs. This past weekend while the kids and hubby were away in Philly I vowed to get the shop online.  I felt like a high school senior that waited until the last minute to write my college essays.  The dread, the task of having to put my thoughts down in a clear sensible way, the details!!!  Argh.  Well, I finally did get the site up. It's not perfect, but will do for now.   I only a few pieces of my jewelry and a quirky pair of awesome moose cuff links are up, but my hats will be up in about a week.  The hats are not posted yet, because I decided that photos of the hats perched on a table looking sad and lonely just wouldn't cut it. I needed a model, be her live or not so live. I really wanted a sassy vintage head, but found it nearly impossible to find a vintage mannequin head with brown eyes and dark hair.  Rob finally pointed out that people of the dark persuasion probably weren't so popular "back in the day".  After scouring the internet, I did  finally find "my girl".  Isn't she cute with black hair, blue eyes, long eyelashes, lots of  eyeliner and a cute painted bob.   Very sassy and asian-esque like me!  Maybe some of you can come up with a nice name of the newest member of the Safi Stitches team!  So, if you haven't already, go ahead, take a peek at the website and maybe even buy something for someone special!  Please remember that the hats will be on their way soon!  And hey, Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A window shopper no more

Last Friday I went "antiquing" for the first time in my life, real live antiquing.  "Antiquing" to me has always been something older people from Connecticut and New York do.  I remember many a summer when my Grandmother (from CT) and my uncle (from NY) would come to Rhode Island and go antiquing.  My awesome, working class, sheet metal mechanic/commercial fishing dad kind of made fun of it.  He wouldn't be caught near an antique shop;  he did however, religiously pay a visit to the local "Barn Sale" every Sunday.  We would drive down a  long dirt driveway and spend hours poking through what many would call "junk".  A dilapidated barn busting at the seams, full boxes piled high with old postcards, forgotten photos, cracked porcelain dolls, moldy books, dusty lamp shades and centuries worth of mysterious mechanical devices.  My dad would call  me over and hold up something sharp, rusty and definitely dangerous. "Hey Jule, what do you think this was used for?"  I would make my guesses, he would make his and he would inevitably ask the Barn Sale's owner.  My dad was always so friendly and interested in learning about people.  On my first day "antiquing" and schmoozing I believe that I must have been  channeling his energy, chatting up the store owners, asking questions, telling stories, and learning more about antiques, buttons, business building and people.  He would have been so proud.  I loved all the chit chat, but I was also working, no window shopping for me. It was empowering walking into an antique shop and not saying, "Oh, I'm just looking".  Instead, I told the store owner that I was a jewelry maker looking for antique buttons for my pieces. "I focus on Antique Victorian buttons of brass, pewter, gold and oh yeah, I love working with black glass, too." These stores were no Barn Sale, but they'll do.

Below are a few of the pieces I have made from antique buttons.  I'm still perfecting the wire work on the bracelets and rings, but the earrings will be up on my etsy site ( this weekend.

Bracelet made from Antique brass buttons made extra special because they are pictorial.  Buttons with children on them are rare and are often collected. Late 1800's -early 1900's.

Earrings made from antique Czech twinkle buttons with filigree.  Ornate, beautiful and unusual because they are painted.  You won't find earrings like these anywhere.
Antique Czech brass buttons.  Detailed, shiny and unique.

Large brass button ring, pictorial with cherries. 1880's - early 1900's.

Not antique, but very fun.  Just an experiment for me.  Made to fit my daughter's tiny fingers.

I love this vintage 1950's button ring.  Medium sized bling for a special night out.

Showy and lovely cocktail ring, 1950's rhinestone, just like a movie star.
Antique moose cuff links, anyone?

Hand-crocheted wire wrist corsage with mother of pearl center.  It will have a light, magnetic clasp for easy wear.
As for my hats, they are selling really well.   I've sold them all, have two more on order and have to buy more yarn. Although, right now I'm having difficulty choosing the right yarn.   What a great problem to have.  I was even thinking about buying yarn made from corn.  It's super soft, comes in non-offensive colors, and is vegan-friendly, too.  I am thinking of the vegans because there were quite a few people who loved my hats at the show, but they didn't buy my hats because they were wool.  I promised them that vegan-options were on the way, so this post is for them.  So, back to the hats, would you buy hat made from corn?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Craft Show!

Only half of the pins I will be selling.  All made from eco-friendly wool.  Pink and yellow are hand-dyed by me!  Carrots, tumeric and beets.
Earrings made from gold plated Czech buttons.  Incredible design and detail.

Funky art deco earrings.  Very cute, very unique.

Wire crocheted flower around 1950's paste button.

Bracelet made from Antique Victorian blue tint and red luster metallic buttons.  One of my favorite pieces.

Rings made from vintage buttons.  1920's-1950's.

Crocheted brimmed cap.  I will be taking custom orders at the show.
Well, it's here!  My first craft show.  I am up way too late, so what's a few more minutes updating my blog going to do?  Thought I'd add some photos of my work.  Anything I don't sell will go up on my Etsy page this week.  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 29, 2010

From hand-dyed yarn to a Button Society.

Haven't blog in a wicked long time because I've been so busy doing all sorts of good things; creating, thinking, being positive, not freaking out with anxiety over teaching...aaaah, so sweet.

What have I been up to?  Well, to bring you all up to speed, I started crocheting wool brimmed caps.  Very cute with flowers on them.  The flowers have a button in the center.  They are also very cute.  All the wool is eco-friendly and untreated, meaning the yarn is not bleached or dyed.  The colors are just sheep colors, some white, grey, brown, very earthy.  That is when I decided to try my hand at veggie dying.  I spent a few nights experimenting with veggie dyes and came up with an amazing yellow from turmeric and carrots and a sweet pink made from beets.  I feel extra hippie when I'm in the kitchen dying wool.  At times I feel compelled to wear wool socks with Birkenstocks and a gypsy skirt (Oh Peace Corps, how I miss thee), but then I remember that that look is just not sassy or sexy and decided to against the wardrobe change.  Jeans and a t-shirt are just fine for my 21st century self.  Where was I?  Oh yes, after several nights boiling wet sheep, I purchased a huge bag of vintage/antique buttons from a consignment shop.  I would need some cute buttons to dress up these simple and earthy flowers.  I made a few flowers with some of the buttons, but  one afternoon my friend came over and we started checking out each button.  We ended up spending several hours examining and sorting them.  And that is how I became an amateur buttonologist. I was flooded with questions. How old were these buttons?  What were they made from?  What kind of clothing were they a part of? Who owned these buttons?  Whose fingerprints were on them?  And lastly, how much were they worth?  I spent hours online researching.  Most of them are pretty old, late 1800's.  Some of the glittery ones were almost too fancy to put on a simple wool flower pin.  That's when I decided to turn some of them into jewelry.  I went to Joann Fabric and invested money in some jewelery-making tools and supplies.  After a few hours of fiddling I came up with my first piece, a wire bracelet made from 19th century blued tin metal buttons.  So far, I've made that bracelet and a few wire rings.  I have no doubt that people will buy them, but soon realized that I had no idea of their real worth.  So I've decided to call in the Big Guns. I contacted a member of the Connecticut State Button Society and will be meeting with her on Saturday to get a better idea of how to price my pieces and Well, dear readers, I am proud to announce that I will soon be a member of the Connecticut State Button Society.  For a mere $8 you, too can become a member!  Oh watch me blossom!

As for my other projects...I've sold two hats and have two more on order.  I love the hats, but I just feel kind of strange selling them online.  What if the hat doesn't fit well?  Does the customer return it?  I envision returned hat piling up on my doorstep.  That would be so sad. Ugh.  I will have a few hats available at the Indie Craft Extravaganza, but will be focusing on selling my flower pins and upcycled button jewelery.  So far I've sold five pins, but have many more people interested.  I've been told they make great gifts. Who knew?  I've been very busy making sure I have enough pins for the show on Sunday.  I hope to sell a lot of pins and jewelery that day, but will be very excited about posting my pieces on my etsy website for the first time!  So all of you who can't make the Indie Craft Extravaganza, make sure to check out my etsy site the following week.  There should be some goodies up by Tuesday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Picture Says...

Few words today.  Enjoy the pics and tell me what you think.
Step 1.  Boil wet sheep.  Stink up house.

Step 2.  Cut up carrots.

Step 3a.  Boil carrots then add yarn.

Step 3b.  Do the same with beets.

Presto!  What do you think?

Hand-dyed crocheted flowers with vintage button centers to boot!  Will be posted to on my Etsy site next week.  Hope you like them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All right already!

Oh man, I am so freakin' tired. It's 9:30pm and the last thing I want to do right now is plan a lesson.  I know I'm not getting much sympathy from all my teacher-readers out there, but puhleez!  This is ridiculous!  I gave my notice last week and I can't tell you how not thrilled I am about teaching.  This is horrible.  What to teach?  How to teach it?  I'm just done with it all.  I may just come down with more pyschosomatic diarrhea and just crochet flowers all day long.   I love the organization and the students, but man, this is brutal.  I feel like I'm living a lie and have I told you how not into this I am?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beet Red

Hubby got back from his week-long trip to Mexico late last night.  So nice to have him back.  As he bathes and tucks in our little ones I am once again boiling wet lamb and simmering a veggie dye.  I'm pretty excited about this one... BEETS!  As many of you may already know, I love a deep red and can't wait to see how this supposed deep red comes out!  Oh yes, and to update you on the "Yellow Experiment", well, let me just say that Carrots along with the help of their friend Tumeric really do make a vibrant yellow.  Tomorrow in full sunlight I plan on taking a photo of the gorgeous yellow flower I made from "Tumeric Gold".  Any thoughts on names for the red I'm working on tonight?  Suggestions are welcome!

As for my day job...I'm still there.  Had an OK day teaching, but my heart is no longer there.  It just plain sucks.  I plan on talking to my boss tomorrow and giving him a deadline.  As far as I know they have no one in line after me. I don't want to leave the students high and dry, but dang, I can't stay there forever.  I've never quit a job before, but this whole two weeks notice thing seems like an awful long time to stay at a job you'd rather be leaving.  I am still totally dreading the day I have to tell my students, but hopefully by then (the end of this week), I'll have many of my products made and my website up.  That way I can tell them that I am leaving because "I want to start my own business".  Otherwise, I'd have to tell them another version of the truth "this job and all its planning is just exhausting and I'm choosing my family over you!" 

As for the new business, all is going well.  Along with lesson planning at night, I've become quite energized by completing my "to do for the business" list. I'm still staying up much later than I should, but it's so worth it.   I am crocheting up a storm, I just got my own PO box, set up my own business-related email account, and I will be ordering my own business cards in the next few days.  Photos coming soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boiling wet sheep

Friday night is here and I've been cookin' up a storm.  It's as if quitting my job freed up some pent up creativity and now I am experiencing a creative tsunami.  Bring it on.   Last night I made two loaves of challah (Shabbat Shalom to those observing) and two batches of cookies for my students today (heavy on the sugar and guilt because I haven't told them I'm leaving yet).  Tonight the calorie load is much lighter. Even though I am in the kitchen and cutting up carrots I'm not really cooking anything.  I feel kind of like a Shakespearean witch hovering between two bubbling cauldrons. Very pagan. Very cool.  Tonight, in fact, I am attempting to dye my eco-friendly untreated wool yarn a bright orange (yes, Unhei your recent request for an orange flower inspired me).  I've taken pictures and hope to add them to the site tomorrow (after the usual Saturday birthday party and swim lesson craziness).  I am simultaneously prepping the yarn by boiling it in vinegar and making the dye by boiling carrots.  Boiling carrots smell OK, but I don't recommend ever boiling untreated wool in a vinegar solution EVER.  Imagine boiling a wet sheep.  This is making me rethink the whole DIY aspect of my home business.  Maybe it would be worth it buy pre-dyed eco-friendly yarns instead of being a hippy and dying them myself.  Although I must admit that I just can't let go of the  picture of myself in the springtime,  wicker basket in hand, elegantly gathering wild flowers for my next batch of home-dyed yarn/crocheted flowers.   Lavender, dandelion, lilies...  Did I mention that I would be singing and wearing flowers in my hair? Birds would be fluttering all around me. I would be some altered Hapa version of Snow White.  I can't let go of the this dream and so I must carry on with this stinky science experiment in my kitchen.  In the Spring I'm sure my kitchen will smell like lavender instead of bovine. Well, until then, may you never have to smell the scent of boiling wet sheep (redundant, I know).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Talk

Today we a had a great student-centered lesson where we asked each other if we had various ailments ("Do you have the flu?") and answered with the proper responses ("Yes, I do" of "No, I don't") (it was essentially an ESL medical version of Go Fish.)  This lesson was followed by the much dreaded "talk" with my boss.  Thankfully, it went very well, although I must give him credit for his persistence.  "No, really, I know this is the second time you've said you are quitting, but you aren't feeling well today.  How about you think about this some more and quit on a day you are feeling great, a day when the sun is shining and the birds are singing."  He is too much.  I looked at him through my blood-shot elephant eyes and said, "Jeez, you're like the boyfriend who just won't let me break up with him (although in all honesty, I never had one of those)."  I went through the extended list of reasons why I can't stay while repeating my "This is the right decision" mantra in my head.  In the end, he agreed that I had my priorities straight (family first) although he's sad to see me go.  I said that I would help with the transition and that was that.  I guess they'll be looking for a new teacher which shouldn't be too hard and once they find one, I'll tell my students. That my friends, will be a very tough day for me.  I will have to treat myself and others to drinks and sushi after work on that day.

Other than that, all is good.  I ordered more white yarn for future crocheted-naturally-dyed flowers and am working on a new hat design tonight.  It feels so good to be creative again. Aaaaaaah.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It's 11pm and I am totally sick to my stomach (again) about telling my wonderful (and I mean that) students that I am quitting.   I hope they understand, but I doubt they will.  Over the last seven weeks we have really gotten to know each other (Adult Education 101: Build Rapport) and I will really miss them.  I feel guilty about leaving them, but I know that they have people knockin' down walls to take my position.  This job was not easy to get.  They had ten candidates, then four, and then....there was one.  My lesson plan is still ready to go, but I just want tomorrow to be over with (and the next day, too). 

I can't help,but think about the office gossip about me, too.  I should really stop it.  I know why I can't stay and that's all that should matter.  My mantra for tomorrow:  "This is the right decision. This is the right decision."  Say it with me. 

A new day called Tuesday

Today I woke up with psychosomatic diarrhea. Gross. I had a great lesson plan ready to go (ironically diarrhea was one of the vocabulary words), but this pit in my stomach was really bothering me. At 8:30am after feeding the kiddos their proper vitamins and medications and brushing their tiny, little teeth, I made the call. It started off as a "sick" phone call, but of course, me being me, the phone call turned into a a "sorry I'm giving my notice because 'I'm giving her all she's got'" conversation. I have from 9 to 12; that's all I've got. I hate conflict and I hate disappointing him and letting down my students, but I really have to do what is right for me. I told him that of course, I would stay and help with "the transition", but I really need to give him a deadline or else I know they will try to squeeze what they can out of me.

Tomorrow I will go to work and put in my all, knowing that my decision to take a new path has been made. For now I will enjoy this new day of this new path. I shall call it Tuesday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Leap? More like the shuffle.

The day is over and I still haven't quit my job. What the heck? All I know is that the lesson went pretty well, but I'm still not looking forward to going back. I'm not looking forward to lesson planning tonight, but I am looking forward to job searching after the lesson plan. What could I do? Become a yoga instructor? A spin instructor? I need to get paid for something I love to do. AND I don't want to take any work home. How about getting on etsy? I've been thinking of crocheting and knitting for etsy for a year now. Is now the time? It must be.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Leap

Tomorrow I’m quitting my job. Today I’m starting a blog. And that’s my life right now. I have lived many lives before this one (not even touching upon reincarnation). You’ll get to know more about those lives later. What you need to know right now is that after devoting many years to being a kick-ass teacher, I realized that I’m getting out and taking a leap into the unknown. Unfortunately, the only way to “get out” is by quitting my job tomorrow. Ugh. I feel sick to my stomach right now, but the thought of not having to go back there elates me.

I’ve been working there for seven weeks now and every week I’ve wanted to quit at least two times. I’ve never had a job like this. The strange thing is, is that five years ago this would have been my dream job. Teaching ESL to immigrants at a non-profit! Dream job! Even now, when I tell people what I do, everyone says, “how wonderful!” and “that must be great.” I smile, but in my head I’m thinking, “yuck." It was Friday night that I had the revelation, “It’s not the job. It’s me.” Jeez, do I sound like an old high school boyfriend or what? It’s true though. I’m not the same person I was five years ago. I have kids now, a house, a wonderful hubby (although he was there five years ago, too) and a puppy. I took the job because the hours were great (9-12 every morning). “Perfect,” I thought. But this is no regular job, it’s teaching, after all. After dropping the kiddos off at school, I start the day off by making copies, then I teach from 9:30 to 12:00. After class I stay and clean up the class, talk with students, do new student intakes, and try, try, try to plan for the next day. I leave, pick up the kids....blah, blah, blah. My day is “over” by 9pm and it is then that I begin my lesson planning for the next day. I am no skimper. When I do things, I put in my all. So lesson planning and “remanaging” this class has been (is) taking a long time. During these past seven weeks I have gone to bed before 11pm a total of two times. Otherwise, I’m in bed by 12:30am every night. I did not sign up for this. I feel too old (I’m not old by any means) for this.

And that is why I’m quitting tomorrow. I just want tomorrow to be over so I can begin my renewal.