Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Releases

At last the prototypes I have been wanting to finalize are now finished and available from my Etsy store.  I will have a few other new things in the works as well.  KaratStix is growing little by little and now I am having to be much more frugal with my new designs in order to keep up with the demand.  You won't see much color, if any, on the newest items.  As much as I love to color and see the finished colored items, it is not an efficient use of my time. You will still get quality bamboo tools with class and some whimsy that are useful and fun to use.  Many of the new tools or redesigned tools have multiple purposes -- you get two tools in one if not more.  Like the new version of the little Alpaca WPI tool -- he is now a needle gauge as well as a WPI tool.
Alpaca Gauge WPI Tool

I am happy at last to release "Tippy", the interchangeable needle tip display stand.  Almost just like the prototype, but with a little more class with the posts embellished with knit stitch column detailing, my signature palm tree on top and attention to accurate gauge holes.  If your needles don't fit smoothly in the hole, then they are most likely not to exact gauge.  I found that one 10 and a half size tip did not fit in either hole as easily as the other tip and saw that there was a bit of glue at the metal to wood join and sanded that away and now it fits fine. 
"Tippy" Front View
"Tippy" Back - Cables Organized

One problem that sat at the back of my mind when I first started designing Tippy was "What is someone going to do with their cables???"  Oh well, I'll just keep thinking about how I can add a pocket or something in the future.  Well, little did I realize at the time that the solution was already there, I just didn't see it until today!   I took a cable and just wrapped it around behind the posts and that wasn't too bad at all but then it got better.  I put all the cables in, and then I had the end caps, hey I'll just screw them on to the cables to store them, and oh, how about I just put those cute little locking pins in the extra size 3 holes that there are no needles for (yet).  Well that worked but the cables did look a little hard to figure out which was which and so I pulled them out, wrote the length of each cable on one end cap, screwed it on (before I threaded the cable back in), then threaded the cable back in, the end cap making a nice stopper to hold the cable in place and then easily and neatly tucking in the open end of the cable either behind a post or under a cable.  It not only looks very neat, now my cables are easy to identify and easy to remove by pulling on the end cap until it unwinds from the stand and the locking pins are easy to find too. 
Counter's Rule
I have used my Counter's Rule for a few projects now and I am addicted to it.  So much that I carry it with me wherever I take my knitting.  Although it was designed to be sitting on a table, I use it on my lap when traveling in the car.  I have a great item from my fellow Etsy seller, Slipped Stitch Studios, which is a wallet for your knitting pattern.  I use this all the time too, I just love it!  What I found though was that I can tuck my Counter's Rule inside the wallet, between the paper pattern and the plastic sleeve and when the wallet is snapped closed, my pegs will not fall out of the holes so no chance of losing my place.  What a great kit -- the chart is right there, I can track all of my rows, stitch increases and pattern repeats on my Counter's Rule.  But be warned though that since there is a thickness to the Counter's Rule that this will stretch out the plastic sleeve a bit -- it won't be so nice and flat as when new.  So if this bother's you, please don't store the Counter's Rule in your pattern wallet.  My little poem: "Count your stitches and rows so your knitting successfully grows." seemed the perfect embellishment!  Multi-colored rings that are on each peg, add some sparkle of color and make them easy to store on the lobster clasps.  My friend, Sue (hi gypsygirl!) who gave a Counter's Rule a good critique (she is now a convert to using one) complained that it was a little awkward getting the pegs onto the lobster clasps and that if I were to add another ring so the lobster clasp wasn't so tight up against the bamboo, it would be easier to operate and she was so right! Thank you gypsygirl for your help and last but not least, thank you Kat in Alaska for all your encouragement, support and getting me to get these done!   Counter's Rules are now available from my Etsy store.
What is it?

So I have some other ideas in the works which I think I'll just show you an image of and see if you can guess what it is (hint: it doesn't have anything to do with knitting). If they look like really lame dragons, well they are actually supposed to be sea serpents :).  They definitely have a purpose.  I'll save that for a future post. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Counter's Rule

I have been thinking a long time about making something to track my knitting with.  I have used all the really cool tools out there -- the counters that slip onto your straight needles and have little dials to increment the numbers (however I don't use straights that much); the cool beaded bracelets that look beautiful as well as help you keep count of your rows, and many others.  I still end up laying a paper pad on the table next to me even though I have a half dozen different tools.   Well, I decided to come up with something that wasn't as portable as other counters out there, but suits my style of knitting -- I like to knit from charts a lot.  Now I can track my rows and my stitches and how many pattern repeats and have something much nicer to look at than my messy pad -- and it is made from bamboo and won't waste paper, so saves trees.  The size is large -- 6" across and just a little over 5.25" high. 
The pegs fit nicely into the holes -- the rings are anodized aluminum and come in a variety of colors so make cheerful, easy to hold pegs.  Yes, if you tip it over some of the pegs could fall out.

So what do you think?  I'm wondering if other people would find this tool useful too.  How about those of you who crochet?  I crochet too and think this would work for that as well, but would love to find out what crocheter's think. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Studio Tour

I have been wanting to give you a tour of my in-home studio where KaratStix is created so today I am finally going to show you around. In this first photo this is what you see when you first walk in. I usually sit in the chair in the corner there behind the L-shaped layout of tables/stands with a red carpet under my feet. The walls and ceiling are covered in cedar paneling (original to the house which was built in 1941) and the wooden floor is oak. It is also a good place to store my yarn stash which is in baskets on a shelf above the windows - the cedar keeps the moths away.
When I am sitting in my chair I have everything close at hand. Here is a view of my coloring station where I have a variety of pencils and other tools handy for working on the bamboo tools. The printer which is hooked up to my computer is used for printing my shipping labels, and scanning the finished orders for posting photos in my Etsy shop.

This area in the photo to the left is where I do my digitizing for my new designs and layouts for the orders that need to be cut, as well as all the administrative tasks such as emails, updating my Etsy shop and all the other tasks that take place online like generating postage labels, purchasing supplies, paying bills, etc. I also have a supply of knitting needles here which are used for testing the knitting needle gauges.
The photo to the right is my spray booth. I just swivel my chair around (it is on wheels) so that I am facing my spray booth. It was built by my husband to fit on the outside of the window and has an electric fan on the roof of the spray box. I use an airbrush and a small compressor to apply the varnish on the finished KaratStix pieces. That is a portable Ott light to give me good lighting inside the booth when I am spraying.
The photo to the left shows the drying racks with products drying on them that have been sprayed. I use cut up cardboard boxes as drying boards and then put strips of masking tape to hold the items in place so that they don't move when I am spraying the varnish on them. The drying racks are within arms reach from the spray booth.

The photo to the right is my storage area where I keep extra items waiting to be colored or sold. I use recycled spinach containers as 'baskets' which are see through and just the right size for my works in progress! They stack easily too and are light weight. I also use the lids for trays to stack the parts on while they are being colored.
The final photo is of my shipping station where I pack things up to be shipped. I keep padded envelopes and a supply of boxes on the bottom and some items on the shelf and some on the desk area.
And that concludes the tour of my studio. Thank you for taking time to let me show you around!

Well, you may be asking "But, where is the laser machine?" Thor (my laser machine) is not located in my studio, but at a commercial facility. I will do a post on Thor in an upcoming blog.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines from the Universe

Wow! What a beautiful bouquet of flowers I have been blessed with!
Many (many, many!) years ago I first noticed what our locals call "tulip trees" blooming in people's yards and I fell in love with them! I wished for all my might that one day I would have one so that I could gaze on its beauty often rather than just a quick glimpse as I rode past and spied one out the window of a car.
As the years went by this tree stayed on my mind and more so when they came into bloom (generally around January/February where I live). Then as life's journey twisted this way and that we were led to buy the house we live in now. We were looking for a duplex and this was the only one that was available at the time and it had the basic requirements we needed so we grabbed it. It was only a 2 bedroom so our son got the cedar paneled bedroom (now my KaratStix workshop) and our daughter got the bedroom that we now use (we used to use the space intended for a dininig room as our bedroom). When we first looked at the house, we didn't know really what was planted in the yards -- it was the weekend after Thanksgiving in 1997 and the tenants were present so we quickly glanced at the layout and size of rooms and the yards were not so important. I did not know that the little bare tree in the corner of the backyard was a tulip tree until we moved in 3 months later.
As I laid in bed on the morning of Valentine's Day this is the view out my window -- I couldn't help but think of the wish I had so many, many years ago and how my life's journey has brought about fulfillment. It was the love of my husband and his children that led me to where I am today and made it possible for me to receive this beautiful, enduring gift. Thank you God and thank you Mr. Snyders and family for loving me! I love you all so much :).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I knew it had been awhile since I had done my last blog, but I didn't realize that it had been the day before my mother passed away. I have noticed some changes in my life these past 6 weeks, which may be unnoticeable to most everyone else -- a new sense of life and living and loving. I find myself reading about spiritual things, considering learning to meditate, and wanting to find ways to fit some quiet, alone time in to the beginning/ending of my day.
There was a baby layette, just about finished, that she had been crocheting for someone's baby. I somehow knew that I was supposed to finish this project and send it to the intended family. Tonight I finally finished crocheting the little afghan -- the only item in the set that wasn't finished . Tomorrow I'll finish off the ends and sew on the ribbons and buttons and send it all off to my cousin in Canada -- it was meant for her grandson's baby who is now over 2 months old. But there will be more babies, and just maybe this little set will still fit the intended recipient -- at least the afghan can keep him warm in his stroller or crib. My mother taught me to crochet when I was little and as I worked away at the little blanket I could no longer tell where my mother's work ended and mine began -- she had stopped when the blanket was about a quarter finished. It seems so appropriate that my mother would have been making something for a brand new life when her life ended -- and that she made sure that someone (me) would be able to finish it for her by having taught me when I was a child how to crochet like her. I think it was just meant to be this way -- such a beautiful, meaningful message in such a simple aha moment today :). My mother travelled around the sun 79 times in this life and blessed many people with gifts from her hands and heart. I am grateful to have learned from her also about giving and living and loving, besides crocheting.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Farm Boxes

I came across a brochure at our county fair for one of those services where you can have locally grown organic farm produce delivered to your home and although I had heard of CSA programs before, this one really got my attention. It was very customizable and there were lots of price choices/combinations to choose from as well as delivery schedules. I reviewed their website thoroughly and even read all the archived farm e-newsletters! The more I studied on this particular service the more I wanted to be a part of their program. So I signed up and the first week in September we received our first box. I was thrilled with the contents -- just what they had said would be in the box. Now, there was one item in there that we had never tasted before - Candystripe Figs. OMG! They were gorgeous and sweet as candy! I was definitely a happy farm box girl :). Yes, all the other fruits and veggies were good too. I ate the figs so quickly though (well I let a couple of other people have some too, and even my parrot got some), I didn't get a photo of them.

Fridays, the list of what will be in next week's boxes comes out so I eagerly looked to see what would be in the next box. Hmmm, mission figs the next time. None of the other boxes were scheduled for Candystripe figs either. So the next week's box arrives and it was a new variety of goodness -- a mix of fruit and veggies and greens and a bunch of fresh thyme -- all of this, except the thyme, grown on the same farm. I eagerly looked forward to the announcement of the next box's contents -- mission figs again, but wait -- if I change my order to the next larger box -- it would come with CANDYSTRIPE FIGS :). So I happily upgraded to a larger order. And now I have a photo for you.
The inside looks like raspberry jam :)
I already know that this week's box won't contain Candystripe figs, but I'm still a happy farm box girl -- I know that I'm enjoying all the food that comes in the box, and as it changes weekly due to what is in season and being harvested I can continue to look for new things to come in my box. This week there will be a Galia melon! And now lettuce is in season so there will be more greens to make green smoothies and salads too.
If you live in Northern California, and want more information on Farm Fresh To You, please visit their website at Wherever you live, please do support your local organic farmers by buying from local farmers markets or searching for a CSA program in your area.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sunset picnic

We had one of the unusually warm days here where it even felt muggy and so we headed for the coast. We stopped at the market to pick up items for an improptu picnic on the beach and we couldn't resist staying to watch the sunset. Then right at dusk, the shorebirds appeared and added to the magic of the evening. The colorful sunset is no doubt due to the large fires raging around California. The picnic was simple -- a selection of gourmet olives from the olive bar, some flax crackers, some fresh raspberries and some Gone Nuts! snack nuts. The music was provided by the waves breaking on the shore :)