Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Some Like It Hot! Chile Pepper Play Food

The Request

I love getting requests...actually, that is often the inspiration for many of my patterns. Here is a conversation I received through my Etsy Shop: The Silver Hook (edited):

Hi Susan, I found your food rattles while searching Etsy newborn gifts for a dear friend who runs a food blog and just had her first child. I LOVE this idea and the fruits are gorgeous enough to display on my dining room table... never mind play with.

I would love to purchase a couple but wondered if you might make chile pepper rattles (a red and green)? I live in the Southwest and she's in the Northeast so I'm forever attempting to amp up her spicy palate profile. I swore I'd introduce her new son to the great, bold flavors of the SW as soon as he's ready. Since peppers are off her diet while breast-feeding, I thought it'd be a perfect and so very meaningful gift to send pepper rattles.


The Design

What an awesome idea! Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. Jason, my husband loves spicy food. I've been expanding my play food collection recently with grapes, watermelon, corn, etc. I was in the middle of a large wholesale order for Fiddleheads Kids Shop, but I took a day off from that project to work on the peppers.

Jason helped me design the peppers. He doesn't crochet (yet), but after examining the prototype, he suggested that the pepper tip needed to fold. Hrm...After some thought I came up with a new-for-me method for curving the tip by working new rounds into to the front loop of previous rounds. Jason also had another suggestion to make a dried chile pepper (more flat and lumpy). I could do that, but I felt that a plump pepper would be a better baby fit - easier for teething. However, it would work for non-rattle play food. Let me know (info@TheSilverHook.ca) if you are interested and I will work up a sample.

The final challenge to making the peppers was the shade of green for the green pepper. It's sort of a yellowish green. Normally I use Red Heart brand and I have many shades of green but none with right yellow tinge. I looked through my yarn stash and found yarn that I had left over from a pair of ripple fingerless gloves I made this fall. It is by Loops & Threads Impeccable Worsted in Grass that I picked up at Michaels. This brand will be a great future supplement to my yarn stash, and I can easily recommend it for child-friendly, easy care, amigurumi. Here is a link to a post about yarn. I'd also add Vanna's Choice yarn by Lion Brand to my list of toy yarn.



Finishing Touches

I sent pictures for approval and crossed my fingers.

Susan! These are absolute perfection. I would absolutely like to purchase these for my friend. In fact... I may be purchasing quite a few in the future as I have a number of friends with little peps en route! 


Since this order was being shipped directly to the new parents, there were a few finishing touches prior to shipping: a cloth gift bag and hand written card.



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Going the Extra Mile - Special Packaging

 Background


When I was writing science papers, I learned to be very precise and concise. I'm a practical sort of a gal and it came naturally. I suppose it is one of the reasons that I like to be eco-friendly as well.

My approach for packaging my orders for shipping is similar. I do what is necessary. Something to protect my toys from water (although everything I make is washable), the toy, and business card. Rarely do I print the invoice- it is available online through Etsy.


Changing Things Up


But it can be really fun to break from the norm once in a while. 

I was asked to gift wrap an elephant rattle. It was Easter weekend and all the local shops were closed. I checked my gift wrapping supplies. There were some festive Christmas bags and wrapping paper. Hmm, that wouldn't work.

I could have used some blank paper and decorated it with hand drawn pictures. That would have been cute. But then I remembered how my mother always has a stash of drawstrings bags - always great for that awkwardly shaped gift. Mom is great hemming pants and sewing Hallowe'en costumes. I had a solution, and it gave me an excuse to expand my sewing skills, too.

I found some great, fun, and gender neutral fabric in my stash. I spent a bit of time conceptualizing how to sew a bag: sew up the sides and make a pocket for the string. On the first attempt I accidentally sewed the bag shut, but a little scissor work fixed that.

I love receiving interesting requests. There are so many things I  want to learn to do, but the procrastinator in my never can find the time unless it is something I am asked to do. I'm proud of my little sewing success. I think that this elephant will have a great trip to Australia. What do you think?






Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Etsy Anniversary and Six Reasons I love Etsy

Image courtesy of www.dailyclipart.net

Happy Anniversary!

Yay! The Silver Hook Etsy Shop is 4 years old! Read to the bottom for my anniversary offer.

 It is wonderful to think back at the first months I was on Etsy. I had yet to figure out my creative niche. My Etsy shop had a few toys, afghans, and baby clothes. That was before I found my love of designing adorable toys. It was months before I had my first sale. My photographs were awful.


I have come a long way. Here are some reasons I love Etsy
  • It provided an online venue to showcase my art. Before my blog and before selling at craft markets, I was on Etsy
  • It gave me a website to add to my business card - a must for any entrepreneur
  • Through my Etsy shop I have been found and invited to craft shows, sci-fi conventions, and stores
  • Etsy Labs provides invaluable knowledge on market trends, running a business, and selling tips. 
  • Etsy is my testing ground for new designs and ideas
  • I have made friends and found much needed support through fellow Etsy shop owners.

The past 4 years have flown by. While I have lots of experience with Etsy, I continue to learn new things and improve The Silver Hook. That's what I love about being a small business owner...constantly learning new things.

My Gift to You

In celebration of Etsy anniversary, I am offering a 20% discount on all orders starting today and ending noon on Monday. During the checkout process enter coupon code EtsyAnniversary. I've been busy increasing my online stock and there is lots of selection.



I want to end this blog post with a big "thank you" to Etsy and all my customers. Happy Easter :)


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Color Inspiration: Summer Blueberries



Now that winter (albeit an unusually short one) has been chased away by longer days, new bright colors are showing up everywhere. 

The windows in my crochet studio...okay, spare room.... were drafty so I spent much of Winter crocheting on the sunnier side of my home. But the weather is warming and I have been organizing my yarn stash. It is no surprise that I am finding myself inspired by the colors of my yarn collection.

I love these three colors of Red Heart yarn: Lemon, Medium Purple, and Magenta. Growing up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, I often went blueberry picking in August.  The purple and magenta shades often stained my hands (and other places) after a day of picking. The yellow represents the bright, sunny, warm days of summer.


 

Also,  be sure to check out my Etsy shop: The Silver Hook. I've have added lots of new toys and rattles and I have been expanding my selection of healthy play food.