That Crazy Dyeing Thing

Howdy, blog reading friends! In my last post way back when (let’s just say it’s been a while) I talked about my experiments in dyeing yarn. It was very fun and addictive. And I kept thinking and thinking about how much I would like to try my hand at dyeing yarn to sell. But it was sort of scary. I mean, what if nobody buys it? Then I will have loads of beautifully hand dyed yarn sitting in my craft closet just waiting to be knitted up! (Oh, wait, that doesn’t sound so bad, now, does it?! 😉) I was afraid of doing something new and having it fail, of having my hard work go unnoticed or unappreciated. I am not a big risk taker.

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But then I thought, how will I know if I never try? There is an element of risk in everything in life. And often, the greater the risk, the greater the reward! So, I dismissed my fears and the little voice inside that likes to tell me I’m not good enough. (Sometimes that little voice is very loud and annoying, and persistent!) I saved up enough to buy some professional dyes. Then I saved up some more to buy some good quality yarn from a fellow dyer who was destashing. And I started up my new little shop, Eclectic Lemon!
I am starting small and building up stock as I can, so right now I only have small batches of worsted and sock weight yarns. But this crazy dyeing thing is such an amazing creative outlet for me that you can get there will be more in the future as I have time and money to add new yarns!

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I do hope you will stop by and take a look around, whether you are in the market for hand dyed yarns or not. I would also love it if any knitters or crocheters out there would leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite yarn bases or colors that you would like to see me add in the future. Or tell me what colorway you see in my shop now that you love the best!

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Oh, also, I wanted to let you all know that I am on Instagram now! I post pics of my knitting and crochet, my yarn, my kitties and collie dog, nature…and sometimes just random stuff. If you are on Instagram, feel free to follow me @EclecticLemon. See you there! 😊

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Galoshes for a rainy day!

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I meant to get this post written and published a couple of days ago, but it just didn’t happen. Now it seems rather serendipitous because if we were to go outside to day we would definitely need some rain boots! It is pouring rain, and our yard is turning into a soggy, wet mess. But that is ok since we don’t have to go anyplace. Instead, I get to sit here and share my newest crochet pattern with you all!

“My Little Galoshes” is a super cute crochet pattern for baby and toddler sized rain boots! Of course, these are not really meant for splashing about in puddles, but they would make a fun spring accessory for any little one to wear indoors. And if you crochet them in bright colors like I have, they will brighten even the rainiest of days!

This pattern is very quick to work up, taking most of my testers just two hours to complete the pair. I have included several tips and tricks as well as a couple of helpful video links to help you achieve great results. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn, but it would also work for worsted weight if you want slightly larger variations of each size. I think an adventurous beginner who has mastered the basics of sc, dc and hdc stitches would enjoy the challenge offered by the shaping on these boots. So don’t be afraid to jump in and get your feet wet! 😉

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You can find the My Little Galoshes pattern PDF for sale in the following places:
Lemon Lane Organics on Etsy
My Ravelry pattern shop
My Craftsy pattern shop

P.S.–if you order this pattern through Ravelry or Etsy before April 7, 2014, you can use coupon code APRILSHOWERS to get a special introductory discount of $2 off! Sadly, Craftsy doesn’t support coupon codes at this time.

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Basic Newborn Bear Hat Pattern

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Ok, so y’all know I haven’t been knitting all that long, so this maybe is not the most original pattern ever. It is pretty much the basic formula for a knit newborn beanie, just with little crocheted bear ears added to the top. I am writing this here more for my own future reference than that I think it will add anything to the knitting world. 😉 I am going to start offering this style of hat as a made to order item at Lemon Lane Organics, so I don’t want to forget what I did to create this adorable little hat. And now, you can make some, too!
Also, I knit a fairly tight gauge but forgot to measure the gauge on the prototypes before putting that in the pattern. Next time I make one I will add that information. Just know you may need to go down a needle size to get an average newborn size hat

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Basic Newborn Hat Knitting Pattern (with crocheted bear ears)

Materials: DK to light worsted weight yarn – less than 50 grams (I used O-Wool Balance)
US size 6/4.00mm knitting needles (either a long circular for magic loop or DPNs)
Crochet hook size E/4-3.50mm or F/5-3.75mm
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends and sewing on ears

Hat:
Cast on 64 stitches, using desired method. I like a long tail cast on for this. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist work.

Work 6 rounds of K2P2 ribbing.

Work stockinette stitch for 3.75 to 4 inches.

Begin crown decreases as follows:
Knit 6, k2tog around.
Knit next round.
Knit 5, k2tog around.
Knit next round.
Knit 4, k2tog around.
Knit next round.
Knit 3, k2tog around.
Knit next round.
Knit 2, k2tog around.
Knit next round.
Knit 1, k2tog around
K2tog around.
Cut yarn and thread yarn tail through live stitches on the needles and cinch up to close the top of the hat. Weave in ends.

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Ears: make two
You want the ears to be a pretty tight fabric without big holes, so use whatever size hook you need to achieve that look.
Row 1: Ch 7, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next 4 ch, 3 sc in last ch, turning to work along bottom of foundation ch, sc 5 along bottom of foundation ch, ch 1, turn.
Row 2: Sc in each st of row, ch 1, turn.
Row 3: Sc 5, 2 sc in next st, sc, 2 sc in next st, sc 5, ch 1, turn.
Row 4: Sc 7, 2 sc in next st, sc 7. Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing onto hat. Stitch onto top of hat, placing as desired, and weave in ends. (I placed mine about 5-6 rounds from the top of the hat.)

If you want a little bigger ear, just sc evenly one more row before fastening off.

You could also make this hat larger by casting on more stitches in multiples of 4 (I think? I’m still not too good at this knitting math stuff!) and making the stockinette section longer before decreasing for the crown. Enjoy! 🙂

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Weekend WIP Wrap-up

It is Sunday afternoon, an overcast day in February, and it is nap time at my house. I used to blog on Sundays. I’m not sure quite how or when I got out of that habit. It seems like it was a good one, though, so perhaps I will get back into that routine…since I obviously have not yet fulfilled my 2014 goal of blogging more! (I have done better with some of my other goals, but I decided I wanted to talk about other things in this post.)

Anyway, I’m calling this the Weekend WIP Wrap-up, and maybe it will become a go-to theme for these future Sunday afternoon blogging sessions if I can’t think of anything else to write about. There are, after all, always Works in Progress where a crafter lives! It has been a long, long time since I did a tally of all the projects I have on the hooks and needles, so this may be enlightening for me! So, let’s get started on my list, shall we?

Crochet Projects:

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First off, I have a pair of these custom faux fur baby booties in Charcoal on the hook right now in the 0-6 month size. My goal is to have them finished and out the door by Tuesday at the latest. I have the body of both boots almost done, and once that part is finished, I will just have the trim, buttons, and tags to put on, besides weaving in all the ends. Totally doable! I have mentioned this designer’s shop before, but for new readers, you can find the pattern at http://www.etsy.com/shop/patternma, not to mention lots of other fun patterns to crochet!

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I guess this isn’t so much of a WIP since I haven’t started on them yet, but I also have a pair of these newborn baby loafers to crochet in sepia brown organic cotton, once I get done with the faux fur boots. The pattern is from https://www.etsy.com/shop/TwoGirlsPatterns where you can find a bunch of really cute crochet patterns. I totally recommend you check out their shop if you like to crochet!

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I also have a pair of wee baby rain boots on my hooks right now. I am in the process of creating a pattern for these, but it is slow going because I am going to create various sizes…and because other things keep getting in the way, putting this project on the back burner. But I hope that over the next month I will be able to get the pattern written, tested and finalized in time for spring so lots of other people can make their own sweet little baby galoshes!

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I guess that is just about all for crochet projects that I’m actively working on at the moment. There is still this huge afghan that is sleeping in the closet right now…and it is so close to being finished, but I never seem to have both the time and the desire to work on it at the same time. I just need to attach about half the squares and do the edging, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is just a very, very long tunnel!

Knitting Projects:

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On the needles right now, I have several different personal projects, either for myself or for gifting. I started knitting a pair of house slippers for myself a few days ago because my store-bought slippers are so old and hole-y and worn out. The pattern is called “Non-Felted Slippers,” and it is a free download on Ravelry. I am making these in handspun yarn given to me by my sister in law for Christmas! Both yarns are from Moondance Springs Farm, which is located in Buffalo Gap, South Dakota. The soles are a 100% llama fiber in the “Sage” colorway, which may actually be the llama’s name, for all I know, since the yarn appears to be a natural color. The uppers of the slippers are 100% merino wool in a super hot pink color. I will never lose my feet when I have these things on, that much is certain! (It also happens to be close to the same shade of my favorite yoga pants, so it’s all good!) I have one slipper completed, and it is a wee bit small, but I am guessing it will stretch with wear, so no biggie.

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All my other knitting is more of the gift-giving sort. I have a Meret scarf in the works for one family member, although it hasn’t seen the light of day for some time. When I do get it out, I really have to think hard to figure out where I left off in the pattern since I am still quite a novice when it comes to lace knitting. (Let’s admit it, although I’m very adventurous, I’m pretty much a novice at all knitting, period.) I’m using Caron Simply Soft in Blue Mint for this scarf.

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I also have another lace scarf in the works, although I am a bit dubious as to whether I will have enough yarn to complete this one. It is another Moondance Springs Farm creation, 100% wool, hand dyed in beautifully vibrant green tones. It is a pretty light weight yarn, but I don’t know how many yards there are, only that it is 1.8 ounces…and I don’t know if it will be enough for a scarf of decent length. The pattern I chose is the One Row Lace Scarf, so I can stop it at any point. I may need to frog it and make it narrower, though, in order to get a nice length for it. I’m not sure yet.

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Little J often wants to play with yarn when I am knitting or crocheting, and he has asked me several times to teach him how to knit. He doesn’t have the fine motor skills or attention span to really do much right now (he is only three, after all!), but I decided I can at least let him sit on my lap and hold the needles with me. He wants to make a bunny rabbit, so we are just knitting a basic rectangle of garter stitch right now, and I will sew it up, stuff it, and make ears and a tale for it. And when it is done, he can say that he helped make his very own toy bunny!

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Another project that is almost in hibernation right now is a baby cardigan I started around Thanksgiving 2013. It is my first ever attempt at knitting a garment, so it is something of a challenge. I am using this beautiful, luscious, squishy organic wool sock yarn from Gynx Yarns in a colorway called “Wolf.” This yarn has been discontinued, and I got it at a deep discount. It is a lovely combinations of cream, grey and tan. The pattern is simply titled “Garter Yoke Baby Cardi.” If I ever get back to working on this cardigan, it will make a great gift for any baby, boy or girl!

And, that, folks, is a wrap-up of all the WIPs I have at the moment. Looks like I’ve got some work to do, huh? That being said, I think I will wrap up this blog post and go stitch! Have a great week, everyone!

The CPSIA Compliance Conundrum: Part 1–Information Overload

(Warning: Long, detailed post ahead! You may want to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and turn on some relaxing music before you dive in!)

If you have been selling children’s items in the US for the last few years, you have probably heard of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that was passed into law in 2008. And if you are operating on a very small scale, selling at craft fairs or on Etsy or some other online venue, you probably have wondered how the law applies to you and how to make your items compliant with the law. Now, I am certainly no lawyer or expert on all the ins and outs of the regulations, and this post is most definitely not intended as legal advice! But for a long time now I have wanted to put together a post outlining the things I do to try to be in compliance as well as listing several helpful links and resources online to help you get started weaving your way through the rather confusing web we call the CPSIA. For clarity sake, I’m actually going to split this up into at least two posts. This first one will deal with the basic information you need to know to start getting compliant, as well as links to the pertinent websites for more in depth information. The second post will contain examples of what I have been doing to try to conform to the regulations.

The first thing you need to know is whether your product is something covered by the CPSIA. If you make anything intended for use by children 12 years of age or younger. Here is a link to the CPSIA’s web page outlining the basics of determining whether your product is covered under the law:  http://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/childrens-products/

Once you have identified your product as a children’s item, you need to know what to do next, right? My first recommendation is that you register with the Small Batch Manufacturer Registy, if you qualify…which you most likely do if you are reading this post. (The big guys all have lawyers and people to figure all this stuff out for them!) Why register as a Small Batch Manufacturer, you ask? Well, the thing is that testing for compliance is very costly, and most of us little guys don’t make enough to afford that. So the small batch manufacturers are allowed exemptions from testing on certain products. Here is a link with some basics on who qualifies as a small batch Manufacturer and a general list of items that DO and DO NOT have to be tested if you qualify: http://www.cpsc.gov/smallbatch. Here is a link to the Small Business Portal where you can get registered: http://saferproducts.gov/SmallBatchManufacturers/. You may be asked to send a letter on “company letterhead” in order to verify that you are the owner of your business and ave the authority to register for your company. You don’t have to have some fancy letterhead…just using a basic professional looking business letter template from your favorite word processing program will do, provided you include your business contact information as requested by the Small Business Portal representative who contacts you.

Ok, so now that you’ve gotten registered, what’s next? Well, if you have determined that your product is on the list of items that requires third party testing even as a small batch manufacturer, then I have little advice for you because I don’t make those things. You will no doubt need to find a way to have your products tested by a third party company. If, however, you have determined that you qualify for exemption from third party testing, then the next thing we should discuss is CPSIA tracking labels. What are tracking labels, and why do you need them? A CPSIA tracking label is a permanent distinguishable mark that identifies a product with your business in the event that a customer has a problem with your product and needs to report it. The purpose is to help make the recall process easier in case of a potential hazard in a product, such as lead paint, choking hazards or the like. The information that you need to have on all your tracking labels is as follows, from the CPSIA website here:

“A tracking label must contain certain basic information, including:

(1) the name of the manufacturer or private labeler;
(2) the location and date of production of the product;
(3) detailed information on the manufacturing process, such as a batch or run number, or other identifying characteristics; and
(4) any other information to facilitate ascertaining the specific source of the product.

All such information should be visible and legible.”

Now, for those of us who do make small quantities of items and do not often make multiples of a certain item, a batch number is not really applicable. In this case, what I and many others have chosen to do is create a date code that can be marked on each label so as to distinguish it from other items and make record keeping easier. For example, on my hand knits and crocheted items I use the following code on each fabric label:

DOM: 13 14
JFMAMJJASOND

DOM stands for Date of Manufacter. The numbers 13 and 14 stand for the years 2013 and 2014, so I can keep using this label format throughout a 2 year period and keep printing them as needed. JFMAMJJASOND are the first initials of each month of the year. To mark the date, I simply make a small stitch through the year and month initial, then sew my tag into my items. It is important to keep some kind of record log so that you can match up each item with the date you made it. This is one area I am not so good at…bookkeeping is my nemesis! So, I don’t have much advice on how you should go about keeping records, but you can find a system that will work for you!

Now, some items you make may be too small for a sewn in fabric tag, such as headbands or hair clips. In this case, you must still provide the required tracking information on the packaging that goes with your item, such as a headband display card. For more detailed information on this subject, see the CPSIA page on tracking labels.

Another thing you might see mentioned in regards to compliance with CPSIA laws are GCCs, or General Certificate of Conformity. This certificate is meant to show that an item has been tested under the CPSIA guidelines and conforms to those standards. However, for most of us who sell on a retail basis only and do not manufacture items for wholesale, it is my understanding that we do not have to issue a GCC to our customers. See the quote below from the page I just linked to:

“The law requires manufacturers or importers to issue a GCC that accompanies each product or shipment of products; that the GCC be furnished to retailers and distributors; and that the GCC be provided to the CPSC, upon request. Accordingly, you do not have to provide the certificate to consumers in direct-to-consumer sales.”

Where GCCs do come into play for a small business like mine is in the supplies we use to create our items. For example, if you make children’s doll clothes that include zippers or buttons, you probably will need to contact the manufacturer of those supplies to obtain a GCC from them showing that they have tested the materials and that they are in conformity with the CPSIA standards. I do not believe you need to supply this certificate to your customers, but you do need to have it on hand for reference. I will tell you that I have not had to do this because I use only all natural materials in my items, materials that have been determined by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) not to contain levels of lead that may be hazardous. For a detailed explanation and list of these exempt materials, see this link:  https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Lead/FAQs-Total-Lead-Content-in-Childrens-Products/

Another abbreviation you may see is for a certificate similar to the GCC is called a CPC or Children’s Product Certificate. This is another certificate that shows conformity to CPSIA guidelines, but it is again only required to be provided to your retailers and distributors if you are selling wholesale (or perhaps consignment), not directly to your own retail customers. See quote below:

“The law requires manufacturers or importers to issue a Children’s Product Certificate; that the certificate accompany each product or shipment of products; that the certificate be furnished to retailers and distributors; and that the certificate be provided to the CPSC, upon request. Accordingly, you do not have to provide the certificate to consumers in direct-to-consumer sales.”

Ok, so if I haven’t completely lost you by this point, here is my basic summary: You at the very least need to register as a Small Batch Manufacturer via the Small Business Portal, and you must find a way to label your items with a CPSIA tracking label and keep records of your items in some way. Let me add one or two more quick links below that may prove helpful, and I will save the rest for another post! Thanks for sticking with me through all this, and I hope that by my doing a bit of the leg work I have helped make the process of becoming CPSIA compliant a little less scary and more doable for someone!

PDF Guide to the CPSIA for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities

Keeping Up with the CPSIA team on Etsy (a good place for Etsy sellers to ask questions of other sellers and find more links to helpful resources)

Terrific Teal

Teal, turquoise, deep blue green….ah…whatever you call it, this is one of my favorite shades on the color spectrum! I love the cool yet deep color, rich and relaxing all at the same time. In fact, I just finished a set of beautiful teal fingerless gloves, and it is all I can do not to keep them for myself instead of putting them up for sale at Lemon Lane Organics! Since I find this color so inspiring, I thought I would put together a collection of some terrific teal finds from a few of my friends over on the Christian Artists Street Team. I hope you like what you see here!

Teal Fingerless Gloves
Teal Sakura Filigree Ring
Teal Chevron iPhone Case
Dark Teal Mineral Eyeshadow
Teal Infinity Scarf
Turquoise Swarovski Crystal Earrings

 

Turquoise Hand Warmers

Let them play!

So, a couple of posts back I mentioned making gluten free play dough with Little J. Since he has wheat allergies, playing with regular playdough is a big no-no for him, even though he is not a play dough eater, like some kids. See, because of his eczema, even simply touching wheat products can create itchy hive-like bumps on his skin and make his eczema flair up. And breathing in dust from wheat flour has been known to make him sneeze, although he has shown no anaphylactic symptoms as of yet. But I hated for him to miss out on the fun and creative play that happens when kids get their hands on some nice, soft, mold-able dough! So I made some wheat-free play dough for him myself!

Little J's Play dough

And this got me thinking, maybe there are some busy moms, grandparents and even teachers out there who would really like to offer the kids they know with gluten-free, wheat-free modeling clay alternatives, but don’t have the time or supplies on hand to make it themselves. And maybe there are others like me who want an option that doesn’t include a bunch of chemical dyes like Red #40. (Because we all know that even when we are watching them, sneaking little kids will take a taste or two of things we don’t really want them to!) There is evidence that kids with eczema are at a higher risk of absorbing chemicals and allergens through their skin since it is not forming as strong a barrier as healthy skin, so why would I want to needlessly expose my child to icky chemicals? Also, although I have found some other gluten-free all-natural play dough for sale online, most of them are scented, either with fragrance oils or essential oils. But not everyone likes the scents, and they may make some kiddos to be even more tempted to nibble a little when Mom isn’t looking! :p

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Thus, Creative Nature Modeling Clay was born! It is all-natural, wheat-free, gluten-free, unscented doughy fun! First it was just an idea, but as I discussed it with friends online and researched recipes and ingredients, I decided to make the idea a reality. I have already created my first several colors using only natural vegetable dyes from things like spinach, purple carrot and red cabbage! 🙂 The colors are more muted and pastel than you would expect from artificial dyes, but I think they are simply lovely. I am still working on creating a nice blue and hopefully mauve or purple as well, but for now these colors are available right here in my Etsy shop!
Brown and white dough

In the future I may be adding another line of gluten free play clay that is lightly scented with essential oils safe for children, but that will take some more time and research. For now, I’d love to hear what you think and invite you to share the news about Creative Nature Modeling Clay with your friends and family!

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