Is it Possible to Make Money from my Hobby?


Some people take a while with finding their passion and I am not an exception.  As you know one my of biggest hobbies is knitting and crochet along with being a beginner sewer.  I have often thought about having a side business because it is a way of keeping myself occupied and possibly making some extra money on the side.  I thinking more and more about taking my hobby combining with the idea of simplicity.  I want to make unique things for people to buy, yet functional, practical, and aesthetically pleasing.  I also want to make, but price my products that are affordable.  I am thinking along the lines handcrafted items with a Target perspective.  If am not willing to pay $150.0o for a baby sweater than I do not think the average consumer will want to do the same.

I have a business idea of creating custom items and some ready made.  It would be a great idea people who like to do something in advance such a baby blanket for baby shower gift, creating organic baby t-shirts and diapers kits, or just handmade gift for other special occasions such as graduations (such as knitting a sweater as a present for my niece), bridal showers, and weddings such as hankerchiefs, approns, tea towels, etc.  I guess it would be a custom gift-giving business. I am still hatching out the idea.  There are a few things I have to do to make this work.  One, is horning in on my craft because it is important to be good at what I do and take pride in it and this mean taking a some classes, second, do some research and create a business plan (I am a left-side and right-side thinker), and third is craving out time to make this happen (time management and organizational planning).  I already have a name for my side venture, Henna’s Place which I think it’s catchy.  What do you think?

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Simpilicity (and not just the pattern)


I have been doing some thinking over the weekend in addition to doing some laundry and knitting, and the word simpilicity came to mind.  I suppose the word came to mind after the few posts I have wrote last week about repurposing and reusing clothes and leftover fabric.  While I was reading Sewing Greeen and other blogs discussing refashion, I wondered if I could refashion my life along the way.  I am in need to simplifying my life.  I thought about it for years in what ways I could make my life as simple as possible.  I read an article this morning from the April issue of Figure Magazine.  Figure Magazine is a publication that focuses on full-figured women with the slogan real women, real style.  Know back to the article, the article highlighted five women who are working in businesses that not only good for the environment, but has a simplicity that is sometimes lacking in some people’s lives (I am one of those people).  All the women had a common thread of using things are that are local and reducing waste.

Actually, these are really new ideas if you think about it.  I remember my grandmother always telling me about wasting anything such as food and cooking oil.  My grandmother would save the cooking oil that she cooked chicken to reuse to chicken at a later time.  Now I do not think saving used cooking oil is a good idea because the cooking point diminishes after the first use.  However, I do remember my grandmother using handkerchiefs.  She would carry one in her purse particularly when we attended church on Sundays.  I will let you in on a little secret, I like reusing furniture.  My mother use to buy used furniture.  She purchased a couch that probably was from the 1920s and had it reupholstered to a more contemporary fabric.    I loved that couch as it sat four people because it was about 90in long.  I would have had that couch to this day if my brother decided to toss it out for trash while I was out on vacation.  He had no appreciation for things that were old.  He was one of those people who loved new and trendy things and couldn’t see anything lasting longer than a year.  However, I have a different feeling when it comes to furniture.  If it is a piece that you like and made well, then keep it and have it reupholstered or refinished.  What can I say, my brother did a betise thing particularly when he it was not his to throwaway.

I am going to the Fat Girl Flea Market coming up April 4 in New York City to see if there are any jems.  I could find a coat and refashion it.  I want to find a black plain coat and embellish by sewing on a border and adding some embrodiary and hope to find something at a reasonable price.  I found out about the flea market while reading a blog that attached an article about a vintage shop with clothes sizes 14 and up in Brooklyn, a place that I hope to visit in the summer.  If you are interested about ReDress, you can follow them on Twitter http://twitter.com/redressnyc.  I intend to find more thrift shops to visit to look for quality clothese to refashion and reuse.  There are probably some leather pants and skirts from the 80s out there that could be refashioned into a bag.  I now can say that I am recessionista because it is about saving money, creating, sewing, and looking great at the same time.

I also enjoy shopping at the farmer’s market because the food is grown locally, and it’s important to support local farmers along.  I love getting fresh herbs, honey, cheese, and even meat.  New York City has a great farmers market located at Union Square and I have even brought a couple of fresh turkeys.  Did it cost more to purchase?  Yes it did, but it was good to know that they were free range turkeys and shot up with hormones.  It also tasted better.

Well, I think I have come to the point where it is time end this blog post.  Enjoy your day.

A Sewing Book Review, Nice Finds and What’s Wrong with Repurposing


It’s a beatiful day and the only unfortunate part of it is that I suffer from allegries during this time of year.  I am allegry to just about everything such as grass and tree pollen, dust mites, roaches, ragweed, horses, dogs, cats, feathers, and a few others things I do not even remember anymore.  However, let us just say that from the months from March to November can sometimes give me some difficulty.  I also have a weird allery to rice, mustard, and green peas which means I can not eat these particular foods very often, and grains like quinoa, amanath, wheatberries, and barley have become my new staples.

Well that is my little side note before getting to real purpose of what I want to write about today.  A couple of blog entries ago, I mentioned that I purchased a book called “Sewing Green” by Betz White.  The book has 25 projects made with repurposed and organic materials along with tips and resources for earth-friendly stitching.  Betz gives very useful and old-fashioned advice on repurposing materials as way not only to save money, but be kinder to the environment.  If you or I thought about it, our parents and grandparents would constantly tell us about the importance philosophy of waste not want not.  We can refashion a skirt by adding embellishments to give it a second life.  I will tell you a little secret, I do not have a problem with going into a thrift shop and finding a good quality coat or jacket and creating something new from it.  Is that not the point of being crafty and creative?  We do not always have to create something new, but create something different as well.  In addition, I do have scraps of fabric and yarn that can be used for other projects.  There is one project in the book where you can make a auto sunshade from empty drink pouches such Capri Sun or Kool-Aid Juicers.  Actually, I think that is a very good idea if you have children who drink those juices, just save them and make the sunshade.  This way you have less trash and your carseat can remain cool, it’s a two-fold solution.  Betz also recycled pillow cases by making them into either skirts for women, or sundresses for little girls.  If you have an old denim skirt, you can create a shopping bag as people are beginning to bring their own shopping bags to supermarkets.  I do not know if anyone knows this, but Whole Foods Market will deduct 15 cents from your grocery bill if you bring your own bag.  I think Sewing Green is a good reference book to have for those who like or want to recycle and reuse.  I have a question, does anyone reuse, buy secondhand, and recycling clothes?  If so, how do you do it?

I have a couple of nice finds today.  Last week, during my weekly knitting club at work (there are some crafty people at my job and we meet on Thursdays afternoon to knit or crochet for an hour) one of my co-workers went to Rhinbeck, NY a few months back and purchased some yarn from Brooks Farm Yarn.  It’s called Four Play which is 50/50 blend of fine wool and silk (it is so soft), approximately 270 yd/4oz. worsted weight (7-9 US needles).  It is $18.00 a skein, but less than $100, you could knit a nice sweater, or just brought two skiens for a scraf or cowl.  Yesterday, I picked up a copy of Sew News to read the article about sew green ideas.  There were a couple of articles, one on sewing with bamboo, and what does green mean.  Sewing with bamboo gives the basic on how to sew with bamboo with choosing fabrics, benefits of using bamboo, and some resources of where to find bamboo fabrics.  One website I like is The Bamboo Fabric Store which had a selection of knit, knit with loop, and flat woven fabrics, and if you like working with hemp fabric, there is The Hemp Fabric Store with a selection of hemp fabrics.  Another website for bamboo fabrics is the Bamboo Textile Store which as a selection of fabrics as well. 

Here is some information about bamboo and hemp fabrics:

Bamboo fiber is softer than the softest cotton and has a natural sheen to the surface and feels similar to silk or cashmere.  It has a very high soil release value and is so durable that you can throw it in the washer and dryer.  Bamboo is breathable, comfortable and thermal, so it can keep you cool and dry.  It absorbs and evaporates perspiration faster than any other fabric.  Bamboo is anti-bacterial and order free which prevents cultivation of yeasts, molds, and fungus on your clothes.  That remains me, I am allegric to mold.  With people who have allegries like me, it’s hypoallergenic meaning it’s non-irritating to the skin (I have asthma and eczema), and something I did not know bamboo fabric protects you from UV rays (who knew).  In addition, it’s environmental safe as it does not require pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers, and it’s biodegradable.  Bamboo fabric does cost more, but it is a very durable fabric so it lasts for a long time which is a long-term savings.

I am going to end on this note.  Considering that I do have some medical issues, it may behoove me to check out different types of plant based fabrics such as corn, soy, lyocell, and tencel.  I am not fabric or yarn snob, but I think it is a good thing to check out other fabric options and work with them.  I will do some more research on the plant-based fabrics and write them in future blog posts.  This also means that I should stop writing because my entry is getting a little long again, and if you are like me you have more blogs to read with subscribing to goole reader.  Enjoy the day!

Still Knitting and Buying Plants


As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I have been knitting this cardigan since October 2008 and it’s now March 2009.  Yes for six months I have been knitting this project on and off for the past six months.  I am almost finished by knitting the rib edging at the bottom and hopefully move on to the sleeves.  This is my first top down construction cardigan with cable trim from the top to the bottom.  I do not know why it is taking my so long to complete my cardigan as I love the color and the way it’s turning out.  The sweater is simple to knit with only one button-hole.  With that said, I vowed to finish this sweater and wear until it is too hot.  However, it’s always cold my office, so I will be wearing while at work.picture-005

I picked up the March issue of Real Simple and read an article of spending wisely in a recession.  The article made a suggestion of purchasing flowers everyday, there are some indoor plants that bloom all year around, ever bloom is the garderning term.  I thought it would be a good idea.  I like plants and blooming plants are even better as your working day passes by, you need something beautiful to look at it to let you know that life is not all bad.  So I purchased these plants from www.logees.com.  The plants come in 2.5″ container and were reasonably priced  the first plant is $8.95 and the second is $5.95.  You can sit them in your windowsill as well.  The first plant blooms intermittently through out the well and the other ever blooms. 

t5037-2-small  r1605-2-large 

A month ago, I ordered a Simplicity pattern to make that Michelle Obama black and white dress.  The order never arrived and believed that the post office lost it.  Simplicity sent me a new pattern and I finally received it today.  I hate the post office in New York City.  One would that one of the largest cities in the world would have an efficient post office, but that would be asking for too much.  I do not blame Simplicity because the company has sent me patterns before without a problem with receiving them, and thank them for being so courteous.  My next task is to find some ribbon.

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Greener Cosmetics


If some of you read my Wednesday’s blog about toxic chemicals in our everyday products, then you might have heard the interview I posted yesterday with the investigator reporter, Mark Schapiro on Fresh Air/National Public Radio.  In the interview, Schapiro told Terry Gross (interviewer) that many of the lipsticks on the market contain lead.  That’s right my sisters lead along with petroleum which I venture to say is not probably a good thing to put on our bodies and faces.  I was reading an article in January 2007 issue of Essence Magazine where one of the celebrities (think it was Nancy Wilson) said that she used Vaseoline petroleum.  Now you could have knock me over with a feather that in this day and age that some people still use this product.  I do not use petroleum on your face or body when can also use it to fuel your car or home, not a good thing.

What I also learned from the interview is that there is no requirement in the United States to test cosmetics.  Have you ever read on the back of the face cream you use that the company doesn’t test their products on animals with the statement “no animal testing”?  Now have you asked yourself how does the company test their products?  I am all for not testing animals, but they should create testing on cosmetics to prove its safety.

I suppose the same the rule for food applies, “If you cannot pronounce, then do not eat it.”  With that said, just as there places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats alternative food markets selling organic products, the same is true for cosmetics.  There are new organic cosmetics companies on the market everyday.   This does not include the 8,000 products that the beauty industry creates each year.  So I am going to write about some alternative cosmetics companies for you do your own research and see what best suits you.  Yesterday I wrote in my blog about a database that gives you the ingredients in cosmetics and a safety rating.  I am going to post it again, so that when you do your research the alternative companies you can rate them as well.  Not all organic products are alike or equal.

Probably one of most largest organic skincare company is Origins (www.origins.com).  The company first started in 1990 and has grown over the 17 years.  Origins has stores across the country and also sells its product in Bloomingsdale’s and Macy’s department stores.  The company sells skin care, make-up, fragrances, and bath & body care.  The next company is Avalon Naturals (www.avalonnaturalproducts.com).  The company sells a variety of body, skin, and hair products, however, does not sell color cosmetics.  A good thing about this company is that it products for babies.   Avea (www.avea.co.uk) is an organic company from Great Britain with an interesting surprise, it sells non-toxic nail polish and herbal hair dyes (the US government does have some requirements about hair dyes).  This may a company worth going on the site and see what it offers. 

One note:  Ladies and Gentlemen from the very fair-skinned to the darkest hue it is very important to use sunscreen if you plan to spend hours outdoors, and this does include people of color as everyone is at risk of getting cancer.  Do you research on the safest sunscreen to purchase and wear.

Here are some other companies you might be interested in taking a look:

Aubrey Organics  www.aubrey-organics.com

L’Occitane – http://usa.loccitane.com/FO/Default.aspx?cm_mmc=

Saffron Rouge www.saffronrouge.com

Lastly, The Green Guide had an article published back in April about organic cosmetic and here is the link for you to read www.thegreenguide.com/doc/119/makeup.  All is not lost, we can still look fabulous but our products can be safer and greener.  Enjoy! 

Things are Getting Greener


The other day, I wrote a blog about doing a little laundering on the fabrics we made into clothes and caring for them.  It would be easier to take them the dry cleaners, but there are times when the cleaners can do more harm than good our nice fabrics.  You may have horror stories to tell about that favorite cashmere sweater that the dry cleaner managed to ruin.  However, does anyone ever wonder about the chemicals that are used at the dry cleaners cannot be good for clothes or the environment.

Going green has become a huge trend over the past couple of years with Al Gore’s book and movie “An Inconvenient Truth” has made the public more aware of global warming or the new catch phase climate change that conservatives are more with using.  However, I believe the average do-it-yourselfer is more conscience of using and recycling things around the house.  I recycle as much as possible as it does save some cash.  I know that people who sew, knit and crochet probably has a million ideas about recycling such as using that glass jar originally for pickles turn into a convenient containers for buttons, ribbons and other notions.

I listened to an interview the other day on Fresh Air with Terry Gross (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16616951) with Mark Schapiro discussing his book “Exposed.”  Schapiro is an investigative reporter who examined how toxic chemicals exist in many of the products we handle every day from the gadgets, toys, beauty products, etc.  He also discussed how the European Union requires businesses to minimize toxic chemicals or list them, and the U.S. does not provide any such requirements in its policy, and with an increasingly green economy, American businesses could get shut of the huge market he argues.  You can listen to the interview at the above-listed link.  In fact, Fresh Air is airing inteviews this week pertaining to environmental issues.  FYI, after hearing the interview, you may not want to purchase anymore plastic toys for your children.

Here is the section where I give some web resources about getting a little greener.  There some good resources on the web on being environmental safer and putting some green in yourself, and there are many instances where you save money.  An interesting tipbit that using a dishwasher saves more water than handwashing dishes as we tend to continually run water while washing them.

Now here are the resources:

National Geographic created a magazine called the Green Guide that provide information on green products, make your own green products, and about the environment www.thegreenguide.com.  

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit organization consisting of a team of scientists, enginners, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know, www.ewg.org.

This one of my favorite websites.  The cosmetics database list beauty products and rates the level of toxic chemicals from 0 being the lowest to 8 being the highest www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.

 

Ideal Bite is an website that gives daily tips for green living.  You can also subscribe to the e-newsletter for your daily bite www.idealbite.com.

 

Lime is a great website that provide mass media, TV, Radio, Podcasts, etc.  There is a variety of information concerning alternative health, fitness, green living, etc. www.lime.com. 

 

Of course there is Body and Soul Magazine from Martha Stweart Omnimedia (www.bodyandsoulmag.com, Plenty Magazine (www.plentymag.com), and Verdant Magazine (www.verdantmag.com) are some of the magazines about green living on the market.

 

 Finally, here are some blogs about green living:

 

http://greenliving.suite101.com/

 

http://dannyseo.typepad.com/

 

http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/cgi-bin/svblog.cgi

 

www.treehugger.com

 

http://thegreenwayblog.com

 

http://www.greenlivingtips.com

 

http://blog.greenlivingonline.com

 

www.greendaily.com

 

I hope that I gave you something to think about, and perhaps visit some of the website to give some ideas how to make your life safer because we only get one and life is too short to waste.  Now, I know everyone isn’t going to do everything, but maybe not having so many lights on in the house, and remember to turn off the water while brushing your teeth to conserve water.  Finally, being aware of the toxic chemicals in your cleaning and everyday products and use with caution, or find alternative products that are safer.  Have a greener day everybody!