New items and new classes!

Some of my most popular items lately have been for kids (or adults who want to tap into childlike whimsy, apparently), so I have started offering them on Etsy. These animal hoods have been a big hit, so I’m making them in fox, bear, bunny and cat. 

And these adorable crowns come in 3 sizes (baby/toddler, child and adult).

I’m also beyond thrilled that some super huge yarns have become available commercially (mostly at Michaels craft stores). And so I have been using them to make arm-knit cowls and these new giant hats.

If you want to make your own hat, here is the pattern. I’ve also made it available as a class on Skillshare. And I added a class on how to make your own wool cord for giant knitting projects. Holiday gifts, maybe?

I’m super excited to get to work on some more projects with these jumbo yarns. They are awesome!

My first class on Skillshare!

I feel like my personal motto these last few years has been “be brave.” So when I’m afraid to do something I try to keep that in my head. And so even though the idea of filming myself teaching a crafts class was a little overwhelming, I decided to do it anyway!

I recently published my first class on Skillshare. If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online platform where you can pay a monthly fee to take as many video classes as you want. A lot of them are crafts/DIY related (knitting, calligraphy, drawing, etc.), but a lot of them are things like editing in Photoshop or getting more followers on Instagram. Good stuff!

One of my most popular patterns on Etsy and Ravelry is for a rope basket, so I decided to flesh that one out and explain in more detail for my first class. I really think it helps to see someone knitting the stitches and doing all the different steps in real time. 

So, if you want to take my class, you can enroll here. You should be able to use that link to get your first 3 months of Skillshare for $.99. BONUS: The first 25 students can take the class for free! 

As intimidating as this was, I still really enjoyed it and am already thinking about what classes I can teach next. 🙂

Spring show!

I haven’t done a show for a while, so I thought it was about time I signed up for one again. Shows aren’t really my bread and butter anymore, but I love doing them because they kind of energize you in a way that online sales can’t. You get to meet and talk to your customers and fellow vendors and see what else is out there in the handmade community. 

Having recently joined the SF Etsy team (which numbers 1,800!), I’m excited to be vending at their spring indie emporium in San Francisco. Here are the details. If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it!

What’s new for 2015

I’ve changed so many things in my shop lately that I can’t even remember what it used to look like! But really I have the same items I’ve always carried, just with some improvements.

For starters, all of my yarn poufs and stuff-it-yourself kits now come with a sewn bag rather than a drawstring bag. The bag makes a pouf with a perfectly rounded shape, and it has a Velcro closure that makes it easy to add more stuffing.

These poufs also have a drawstring closure on the knit cover so that the cover can be easily removed for washing and put back on. I’m still mulling over adding a similar closure to the wool cord poufs, but they are much easier to open/close to begin with that I’m not sure they need anything different.

Speaking of wool cord, I finally settled on a yarn that I really love for these poufs, and it comes in 22 gorgeous colors.

It’s been really fun making these poufs in a variety of colors for customers.


This is the burnt orange.

I also added some new colors to my regular yarn offerings, so there are 20 to choose from instead of 16.

What kept me crazy busy in December was having items in 3 local stores (see links on the sidebar). I’m almost to the point of having to reduce my online offerings so that I have time to make hats and cowls. So, to save that precious, toddler-free work time, I’ve been working on making bigger knits that work up really quickly.

These hats are made from super thick Peruvian wool. I love working with this yarn. I came up with a beanie, a slouch hat and a roll brim hat that are really cute and flattering.

And I’ve also been selling a lot of arm knit cowls at Studio 333 Downtown. They come in two sizes, small (single loop) and large (double loop).

Still on my to-do list this year: add a medium-size pouf to my Etsy shop, add more patterns to my pattern shop, and list baskets and rugs made of wool cord. They are pricier than the cotton rope, but I found after so much frustration trying to dye the rope and work with its inconsistency, that wool cord was the way to go.

I’m teaching a class!

I’ve always thought it would be fun to teach a knitting class. So when the opportunity to teach one at Gather came up, I jumped. Gather is the awesome boutique in San Francisco that sells my rope baskets and some of my other knit accessories. They also have a big space that’s perfect for craft workshops. I’m going to be showing people how to arm knit a cowl, which could not be a quicker or easier craft. We’ll make a cowl that looks like this.

All the details are here. Gather provides wine and snacks, which is a sweet bonus!

Saying goodbye to grandma Mason

Earlier this week my beloved grandma, Mary Marie Mason, passed away. Obviously she meant a great deal to me. She was my inspiration as a crafter, wife, mother and overall person. I’m not sure I know a kinder person in this world. 

It was heartbreaking for my mom, who was planning to go visit grandma in just a few days, not to be there. One minute we heard that grandma had been taken to the hospital for something fairly minor and the next minute she was in critical condition with a blood clot. So there was no time for us to say our goodbyes. However, I’m sure she knew how much we loved her. And my uncle said that she seemed at peace knowing that she would probably not survive this ordeal. Perhaps realizing her body was failing her after a broken hip, she got to a place that none of us quite realized. So in a way I feel like she was spared a difficult road of transitions, loss of mobility and memory, and everything painful that comes with old age. 

It’s really easy for me to speak in glowing superlatives about my grandma because she really was that extraordinary of a person. She graduated high school early and went to college, eventually becoming a teacher. She was actually a pretty sweet, diminutive person who stayed home to raise her children and loved the traditionally female realm (cooking, sewing, decorating, church choir…). But she had an extraordinary heart. She never had much in the way of material things, but she would give you anything, anything you needed if she could. She gave up a lot to care for her mentally ill sister and later her husband. And she survived cancer. Twice.

Grandma was incredibly resourceful and thrifty. I don’t think she ever threw away a mayonnaise jar or a Cool Whip tub if she could reuse it. She put shower caps over her bowls to keep food fresh in the fridge. She was a dedicated letter writer and she always tucked a bunch of clipped coupons inside her letters. She sewed her own clothes and even doll clothes and little Barbie-sized pillows for us when we were little. She made the most intricate counted cross-stitch samplers, many of which we have framed and will cherish. Her baking was so comforting — pecan pie at Thanksgiving and lemon bars and frosted sugar cookies at Christmas. Her potato salad was legendary and she always had some in the fridge. 

But you know what I will never forget about grandma? Her hugs. When she saw you she would wrap her arms around you and squeeze you to your bones. And for a long time. It’s like she hugged you from her soul. It just felt good. 

I also always admired my grandparents’ marriage. They were happily married for more than 50 years. They seemed to have mutual interests and mutual respect for each other that you don’t often see. It slays me to think of them walking down a sidewalk holding hands or my grandma washing grandpa’s hair in the sink when he couldn’t anymore. 

My mom was saying how we carry on grandma’s legacy every day by raising Harper. My grandma loved children. She wanted several but was lucky just to be able to have two since she had endometriosis that was not easily treated at the time. I think she was probably most proud of her family — all smart, loving people doing interesting things. I’m only sorry that she couldn’t be here to see more of the next generation born. I guess that’s the hardest thing to accept — that the people you love most won’t live forever and that someday you will have to let them go. 

It’s a nice feeling to know that every time someone orders something with me they will get a little tribute to my grandma and her legacy of art, craft, thrift, and love. 

XO grandma. Miss you already. 

Workshop reveal

I can’t believe I can finally say this: The workshop is finished!

Well, nothing is ever truly finished around here. I still have a lot of smaller projects I’d like to do. But I can say I have a functional workspace and it looks amazing.

Here’s what the inside of the workshop looked like before.

Actually, when we first bought the house the workshop didn’t even have lights or electricity. It was basically a garage with a dirty cabinet and a partially finished closet.

It was never really meant to be a finished building, but that’s what I needed so we made do with what we had. Some of the wood in the ceiling looked like it had been salvaged from another building, so I think it was a DIY project from the start.

So, a few weeks ago, Mike and his dad started work on the drywall. It’s something we will probably never DIY again because it’s so much work, but it was a good thing for them to do together. I know Mike learned a lot about construction and got several new tools out of it.

After they sealed holes, patched uneven wood beams and put in insulation, they did the drywall, tape and mud.

That was about when my mom arrived, so we had to move everything that had been jammed in her room outside. What a mess!

Part of the problem (in addition to the workshop being smaller than my old workspace) was that I had never had a chance to go through all my stuff before we moved and get rid of things I didn’t need. I didn’t even know what I didn’t need until I tried to move into the new space.

In the meantime, Mike and I worked on painting the old cabinet and replacing the damaged wood on top. He cut the boards and stained them a nice color.


Check out that crazy old paper inside!

I painted the drawers white and replaced all the hardware.

And then everything was ready. The paint-stained cement floor needed something to make it look a little better, so I got an outdoor rug from Target.

So, drumroll please… here’s how it looks now.

I painted the peg boards lemongrass and then installed them on the back wall, which brings the whole room together. 

I was so excited to use my Pyrex bowls as useful displays. They’re holding all the ribbons, thread, buttons and other sewing supplies my mom and I have between us.

Another corner of the room is my shipping center. Shelves were key to getting the most out of the vertical space in the room.

Sadly my yarn display is almost totally empty! Time to reorder.

I’m glad I had plenty of wall space for artwork and photos, including one of my grandmother. She watches over the shop.

The back of the room is a bit messy, but my felt scraps and extra foam and stuffing have to go somewhere.

I originally thought I would leave the old gray paint on the closet door but now it looks so grungy I think I’m definitely going to paint it. Inside the closet we’re storing all of our signs and things for sales, plus some of mom’s items to sell on eBay. 

Sometime I’d like to paint my desk and the yarn display since nothing matches. Then I’d like to find a vintage wood file cabinet with 4 drawers so I don’t have to have two cabinets precariously stacked.

The final piece is painting the exterior and maybe getting a new light and a sign for the door. I’m picturing something cute that says “Mary Marie Knits world headquarters.”

One sweet show

I know it’s been a while, but I just felt like I had to say what a great time I had at the Temescal Alley holiday fair. 

It was an especially chilly day for the bay area, so I had cozy items that could appeal to both shoppers and sellers. At one point I looked around and at least 3 people in view were wearing my things. That was a pretty awesome feeling.

I also bought some goodies from vendors around me. This adorable upcycled dress for Harper came from Berit’s Lilla

And I had to get one of Jen Hewett’s screenprinted bags, which I gifted to a friend.

It always feels good to have a successful show, but I also loved being part of the spirit of the indie shops that line the alleys. It kind of reminded me of friends who opened shops in Des Moines’ East Village. Fun people, doing what they love, making an old neighborhood new again. In this case, tiny shops came out of old horse stables and carriage houses. 

My photos don’t do it justice, but it really is a cool place to shop. Maybe one of these days I’ll get to Doughnut Dolly before they sell out. 🙂

Bonus: Now I have a few rope baskets at Walrus, a cute shop full of upcycled household items. 

Last show of the year!

Just a reminder that the Renegade Craft Fair is coming up this weekend in San Francisco. I’ll be there with all the usual goodies. Hopefully people are still looking for last-minute gifts!

Sunday’s show

I’ve been hearing a lot about the cool indie shops in Temescal Alley, so I was excited when I found out I could be part of their holiday artisan fair this weekend.

I’ll have all the usual knit goodies. And I might even have (at long last) a sample pouf made with my felted cord. I just shipped my first order for one, and it turned out exactly as I’d hoped. The process needs some work, but I’m getting there.

If you get a chance, come check out the fair and the cute little shops nearby.