Friday, August 29, 2008

School started, and it isn't as bad as I was afraid of; the professor seems to genuinely care whether he's doing a good job or not, which makes a huge difference! The kids in my lab all seemed really nice too (they laughed at my jokes, they VOLUNTEERED to introduce themselves... I was majorley impressed!).

I'm backed up at the moment and my shop seems a little empty of amigurumi. I'm actually going to be taking part in a promo (I'll let you guys know more details in a bit) and I have a few custom orders to take care of. Otherwise, I need to start working on my fall amigurumi; besides the black cat, pumpkins, turkeys and ghost I did last year, I have a few other things planned!

I also have 499 sales, yippee! I didn't have time to coordinate a big blowout for my 500th customer, but I am going to show a token of appreciation to that customer and on my blog as well... I have a giveaway coming up when I hit 500, so stay tuned!

Here are some lovely views of my office, which is where I will be most of the time now until December or so.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shopping Sunday

Well, I just finished my syllabus and its not pretty... the professor for the course I'm TAing for is brand new at teaching the lecture course and so he's basically testing the waters. He wants the students to take 10 quizzes over the course of the semester (usually it's six, max) and he originally wanted all of them to be essays. For teachers, essays are much harder to grade because they take so much time; you literally have to read essays (all of them) a number of times to get an idea of a grade spread and how you can suggest improvement in writing/ thought organization. We talked him out of all 10 essays, but still, its not going to be a fun semester; all the books he wants the students to read are extremely old and extremely dry... and he just lectures (no slideshows, no pictures, nothing!) so very, very boring. Actually, it's probably a typical history class... way to reinforce the stereotype about history professor! (I think my version of history is a little bit more Indiana Jones/anthropology than history).
On the bright side, I've been trying to prolong my summer (school starts Monday) by surfing the internet, so I thought I'd share some of my great finds with you all! I've added them to the resources column on the left of my blog, so they'll be there for you in the future. Here they are!
  • fabrictales: a great website with cute traditional and some kawaii fabric, craft books, purse patterns and hardware (such as pinch clasps for pouches).

Photos from fabric tales

  • strapya: so many cute keychains! Shipping isn't bad and they have a great variety of really kawaii things!

Photos from strapya

  • japangiftmarket: A great place for decollelo, cram cream items and super cute deco tapes

I really want these mugs:

Photos from Japangiftmarket

And finally from etsy seller Washicreations, based right here in Honolulu with free shipping to US addresses (with a discount for international buyers too!). They specialize in kawaii memo pads and sticker sacks (no picture because my order is still on the way!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting moo cards inspired me to make my own business cards, which are currently on their way to me from vistaprint! I know, I know, vistaprint has a reputation for being horrible... but they're so gal-darn cheap- I couldn't help myself! I was originally pricing and making them on Overnightprints which my sister recommended to me; she says they have really great quality for really reasonable prices (vistaprint=really cheap prices, okay quality, possible secret charges/on your credit card). She actually used them for her art show in college on the mainland and was really happy with them. So I spend a few hours in the middle of the night (I had insomnia) and I create a beautiful card (satin matte finish, color on both sides, rounded corners... the rounded corners were what really made me happy) and a really cute address stamp (I've just been handwriting all of my return addresses; it's a drag and a half). But then, when I go to check out and I see that overnightprints only ship using UPS and shipping my order to Hawai`i would cost $46 just for shipping!!! That's almost more than the cost of the cards and the stamp combined! Plus, I'd have to drive to the airport to pick up my package because I live in a secured apartment building. Needless to say I decided vistaprint was worth the risk at 1/2 the price, and only $8 shipping. Honestly, $46 is waaaay too much for shipping, even to Hawai`i considering if they went through USPS and used a flat rate shipping box they would pay $8-$14. Say what you want about the US postal service, but they are my FAVORITE method of shipping ALWAYS!

So here it is, my business card design! Similar to my moo cards, but I thought those turned out great (thanks for all your sweet comments guys!); it has color on both sides, but glossy finish (vistaprint doesn't offer satin matte). I'll let you know how they turn out when I recieve them!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thank you Yoko!

I must say, that along this crazy ride called berrysprite, I have had the opportunity to get to know so many truly awesome, creative and genuinly sweet people, mostly through email conversations and mutual blog/flickr reading/ commenting. And actually, it really brightens my day to know how many good people there are out there and how many friends I have around the world, even if we do only "talk" online. However, it was so nice to finally get to meet one of my blog readers face to face; as a result I am convinced she is indeed sweeter than a sugar cube. Meeting her all came about because she wanted to make space in her home but didn't want to throw her items away, and thought that I would like them (she even offered to catch the bus somewhere to give them to me!) We ended up meeting at a coffee shop and talking for a tiny bit and though I could only stay for a little while it was so great to talk with her and definitely just as nice meeting her as receiving free goodies from Japan! My conversation with her serves to confirm my belief that I would need a TON of money to go to Japan (though it would totally be worth it for all the kawaii items and nice people, culture and history) and that I would most likely be broke but euphoric after coming home! I'm so touched by her kindness; I'll make sure to reciprocate on my blog in the near future.

Here are some pictures of most (there was quite a bit) of the lovely things she gave me;

(clockwise from upper left hand corner)

  • a japanese book with instructions on making pop-up cards,
  • *fancy file folders and a "Hello my name is: You can't afford me" bag
  • *oregano that grows in a bag
  • *miniatures from Japan
  • japanese candles shaped like sweets, hello kitty sponges, a clip, a keychain shaped like snacks, a rabbit phone charm, and penguin decals for a cell phone
  • boxed mini origami set (but the papers are really nice, not like a normal set!)

I'd have to say, however, that the best thing I was given was this: my first ever amigurumi book! That's right, FIRST EVER! I'm not sure if you guys remember this about me, but I'm completely self taught with the amigurumi-ness; it's been a lot of making and remaking amigurumi until I think they look right, and then I usually don't write down the pattern anyway so I have to remake the pattern or memorize them (I actually have most of them memorized- but there's always a bobble here and there).

I don't know if I hid my excitement in the coffee shop that well, but I didn't want to scare the other patrons with my shrieking. I will treasure it always! And although there are so many cute projects; here are my two of my favorites for your viewing pleasure:
So thank you so much again, Yoko, for being so sweet and lovely!

Friday, August 15, 2008

happyapplet, moo and Penelope

So today (and yesterday) a bunch of Hawaiian print fabrics went into my etsy supply store, happyapplet... I haven't uploaded things there regularly like I try to do for berrysprite, but it's been going pretty good. I've also made a few blythe dresses and amigurumi, with felted and pompom creatures coming up but I haven't decided whether to but them in my two existing shops or to start a new one... I know I'm a greedy etsy pig!

Speaking of pigs, I just watched Penelope for the first time... it was awesome! I've liked Christina Ricci as an actress ever since she was Wednesday in the Addams Family movies (which are hilarious!) I dunno, I think she looked cuter with the nose!

Aaaand, finally; I got moo cards! Well actually, I just got the 10 free ones you get when you upgrade your flickr to a pro account. But I made them worth it; I split each card into two photos so I actually could use 20 photos instead of having to choose just 10. They're really nice and printed on thick thick thick paper, and the print quality is pretty good too. Definitely an option if I want to make business cards (though a bit small- 1/2 the size lengthwise of a regular business card, and also pricey; $19.99 for 100 not including shipping). Anyway, they make me smile :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Foster Botanical Garden

If you are looking to escape to nature in the middle of the city, one of the best places you can go is to a botanical garden... it's always good to escape from the hustle and bustle and a great place to get inspiration. I've found that bringing along your digital camera to places like zoos and gardens can really heighten the experience (and also lengthen your visit) because you're more likely to look closely at things when you are thinking of what type of pictures you can produce. In Honolulu we have Foster's Botanical Garden, which is surprisingly peaceful and extremely beautiful for a place that is surrounded on one side by a freeway and on two other sides by roads that support downtown traffic nearly 24/7. It's a great escape that only costs around for $2 for entrance (mostly to support the park); there are so many beautiful plants and flowers there it's definitely well worth the price! Basically, it's a cheap and more natural summer activity that would be great for the whole family! Plus, it's a great way to learn about plants from around the world. These are just a few of my favorites (so as not to bore you); check out my flickr for more!

This plant has silly orange fruit; when I saw it I thought they looked like little octopi because of all the little nodes sprouting off of them! So weirdo scientist must have thought they looked different though, this plant was marked as a "nipple fruit!"

A beautiful crown flower plant in the purple and white variety, very popular for lei here in Hawai`i...

And the best part of crown flowers... caterpillars! I loved taking them home and growing; we'd always take them right back to the crown flower plants once they had become butterflies!

A gold-dust gecko hidden among the greenery; these little guys are not native to Hawai`i but sooo cute! There are a lot more of them on the Big Island, they are rarer on O`ahu.

And a pretty flower that looks almost like a sea anemone from the cannonball tree; the trunk of the tree itself is covered with cannonball sized gourds! This flower is actually dying; the live ones are much lighter with peach and purple tones.

Friday, August 8, 2008

kawaii toys

Japanese companies make such cute things; I always get the best ideas and inspiration from Japanese illustrations and toys! I really wish I could go to Japan for a crafty fun trip, but I don't see it happening anytime soon; I'd probably need a hefty wad of cash for all the good stuff I would find! However, I am very lucky to live in Hawai`i because we do have lots of kawaii stuff from Japan; I got this keychain at Shirokiya at Ala Moana (same place as the rement). It's got a tiny little Mount Fuji in it with little pink cherry blossoms painted on... it makes me want to start making resin goods with fimo inside!

And I was so happy to find this little mamegoma jitter seal box in the candy aisle at Marukai, which has lots of Japanese specialty items and candy; it was the last one! I practically screamed as I grabbed it. There was a possibility of getting 4 different seals, and although they were all cute I really wanted the pink spotted one with a leaf. I got this little one, with a blue mouth and cherry, which is also very cute :) If you pull the cherry out, the little seal wiggles up to get the cherry back... adorable! Hopefully I'll be able to make some cute seals of my own someday...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Product review: clover yoyo makers

Well, I must say that I am a craft nut, and over the past two years (mostly thanks to the income I've made from my etsy shop berrysprite) I've been able to purchase really cool crafty items. Sometimes it would have helped to have had a product review to let me know if the item was really worth it (for example, I still haven't gotten the hang of the clover embroiderer) so I decided it may be helpful to make some of my own. So... da da da dum- here is my first product review, for the clover yoyo makers in size extra small and small. There's certainly a cadre of uses for these babies; sew them on a bobby or clip pin with a cute button for some diy hair pins, sew them onto pinbacks for pins for your clothes or bags, or you can use them as sewing or scrapbooking embellishments. I actually have the small flower one too, but at the time I was making this tutorial I couldn't find the directions and I didn't want to try winging it by myself (lazy, I know).

These yoyo makers are made by clover japan, a notion company that is the bees knees, seriously. They are made in heavy plastic and come in many sizes (extra small through extra large) and shapes (including heart, flower, and regular yoyo). For both yoyo makers, bits of leftover and scrap fabric work best; I wouldn't recommend using very nice or expensive fabric for this (i.e. kawaii japanese fabric) as the cute patterns will not show up well. However, calico, gingham, polka dotted, scrap linen etc will work well; very heavy or very thin fabric might be hard to use. For both yoyo makers, you should have a piece of fabric that will allow you to cut a circle a little bigger than the actual yoyo maker because you fold the extra over in order to stitch the yoyo together. Other than having just that much fabric, these yoyomakers turn scraps that might be thrown away into something really cute!

All in all I would rate both yoyo makers as very good investments, especially if you use yoyos in your work. They run from $4-$8 for one at various craft stores, and if you grab them on sale they're even better! What really makes them good is your ability to make yoyos that are the same size and can be gathered neatly; the yoyo maker has little holes around its circumference that act as stitch guides, ensuring even stitches. Incidentally, the only problem I ran into when using these yoyo makers was making the gathers lie nicely with a nice rounded hole at the top, but that can be fixed by guiding the gathers as you pull the thread tightly. I did find that it was more difficult to get the gathers on the extra small yoyo to lie flat and nice, but that may because I had too much fabric. The finished yoyos for the small yoyo maker had an approximate diameter of about 1" (2.5 cm) and the finished extra small yoyo was .75" in diameter.
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