Small Business Holiday Shopping Guide

In the U.S., tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day of reflection and gratitude.  The holiday is supposed to be about being thankful for what you have and spending time with loved ones (and let’s not forget eating favorite foods), but it has also become the official start of the winter holiday shopping season. I dislike crowds and rampant consumerism, so Black Friday sales and doorbusters are pretty much the total opposite of my idea of a good time.

Especially during this time of year, it’s important for me to support small businesses.  Here’s my version of a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shopping guide highlighting some great small businesses I’ve encountered with over the past year.  (Oh yeah, and there are some discounts, too.)

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ll start by saying that I’m offering a 25% discount in my Ravelry and Etsy shops with coupon code shopsmall13 through 11:59 Eastern on Monday, December 2, 2013.

Underground Crafter pattern collage

In my Ravelry shop, you’ll can purchase any of my self-published patterns for instant download.  All of these patterns are included in the Indie Design Gift-a-long on Ravelry, where you can win great prizes from indie designers and yarn companies.

 

Underground Crafter hooks Collage

You’ll find the same patterns in my Etsy shop, along with bamboo Tunisian crochet, crochet, and “knooking” (knitting with a crochet hook) hooks.  If you’re looking for a fun crafty gift, I sell a Tunisian crochet gift set with 5 Tunisian crochet hooks and my Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet all wrapped up nicely with a gift card.

 

Other Gift Ideas for Crocheters and Knitters

Sistermaide hooks

 

Molly Girl Chart Topper

  • Earlier this year, I spent the day at the farm of the Long Island Livestock Company, which was amazing.  (I’m still working on writing up a blog post to do my visit justice!)  If you’re in the Long Island area this Sunday, you should absolutely check out the open house at the farm, where you can buy her gorgeous llama yarns, rovings, and skin care products.  (And don’t forget the cat toys, which my cat gave 5 stars.)  You can find more details on her Facebook page.  Click on the flier to enlarge it.

Long Island Livestock Company open house

 

  • I recently finished reading Sweater 101, an amazing book by Cheryl Brunette that is produced by an indie/small publisher.  If you have a friend who wants to try out knitting (or even crocheting, because there is a lot of general information) their own sweater, this would be a fabulous gift.  You can find more knitting and crochet books that I’ve reviewed here.

sweater101

  • And if you’re looking for other ideas for the knitters and crocheters in your life, check out Marly Bird‘s frequently updated compilation of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales on her blog here. You can find links to discounts on patterns, yarn, needles/hooks, bags, and all sorts of other goodies there.

 

Big Ticket Items

And in case you’re in the position to splurge (as a gift, or for yourself)…

Jenny Hall

Last year, I injured my back and spent most of 2013 in constant discomfort.  A few months ago, I was referred to Jenny Hall, a Licensed Massage Therapist. I always thought massage was a frivolous luxury, but Jenny’s approach to massage isn’t about spending a day at the spa to pamper yourself, but being aware of your body and working on it as part of a long term plan for your health.  Visiting her office has been one of the best decisions I’ve made and is truly money well spent.  For those of you in the New York City area, Jenny offers competitive rates, including discount packages.

If you live elsewhere, Jenny recommends looking for a reputable massage therapist through the American Massage Therapy Association, or by reading reviews in a local Yelp search.

Creativity Yenta

My long time readers already know Carlota Zimmerman, the Creativity Yenta (interviewed here).  Carlota is a creativity coach, and was instrumental in helping me make a career transition this year.  With the New Year around the corner, booking a series of appointments with Carlota for yourself, or as a gift for a loved one, may be the inspiration needed to kick off a career or other creative transition.  And Carlota’s offering a special discount for my readers!

Get. Started. Now.

Ready to make 2014 the year you achieve your goals? Ready to start creating a life you love? This package is for people who are looking to change their lives, but are not exactly sure how to get started, given how overwhelming the process can be. Many people have very manageable goals, but they find that the actual mechanics of starting something new are, frankly, terrifying.

Terrifying… unless you hire a coach with a Type-A personality who loves to create detailed, step-by-step plans to get people started, and is comfortable holding clients accountable.  (Oh, you lucky people.) Over these six weeks, we’ll organize your goals, and craft a realistic strategy based on your personality and experience, allowing you to start creating the life you’ve always wanted.

Get. Started. Now.

So many people find that the hardest thing is knowing where and how to start. I’ll get you started, and then I’ll help you create the long-term habits necessary to maintain and grow your success. At the end of six weeks, you’ll have an exit strategy to keep moving forward, as well as the skills necessary to keep creating the opportunities you need. $575

This package is specifically for friends of Underground Crafter. It will expire on December 31, 2013. To take advantage of this package, please email me at carlotazee AT gmail DOT com, and become a fan of my business Facebook page.

 

Please remember to shop small throughout the holiday season, and to think about buying (or making) creative gifts that inspire the recipients!

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Bullion stitch blocks, week 1

This post contains affiliate links.

This post is part of my Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.

With my woven crochet clutch finished, I was ready to embark on a new chapter in Crochet Master Class.  I had the desire for texture, so I moved on to the bullion stitch chapter, which features crochet master Bonnie Pierce.  Bonnie learned the bullion stitch about 30 years ago when she decided to use a vintage pattern (with over 100 bullions) to make a Christening gown for her daughter.  After that, she saw that there was a lack of bullion patterns so she began to write her own.  Bonnie’s website links to 25 of her free square patterns, and she also sells some of her books, patterns, and bullion crochet hooks here.

I first experimented with the bullion stitch in 2006-7, when I crocheted this hat.

This hat is made with TLC Heathers yarn that I purchased on my very first trip to Smiley’s in Queens!

Since that hat, I haven’t done much with bullions.  If you aren’t familiar with the bullion stitch, check out this YouTube tutorial by Margaret Hubert (which I learned about when I took her freeform class last year).

For some reason, this week I had a great need to “kill three birds with one stone.”  So I tried to pick a bullion project that I could also make from my own stash and for charity.  After a bit of searching on Ravelry, I came across several bullion stitch blocks by Donna Kay Lacey.  I started with the Poppy Bullion Block.

The sun glare on the white washes out some detail on this “in progress” picture.
Here’s the finished block. I assure you that the wonky sides are not a design feature. Let’s just say you shouldn’t try to read a complex pattern while crocheting on the subway if you are aiming for perfection.

I really enjoyed the pattern.  A lot of crochet square patterns are pretty predictable, but this one kept me guessing – in a good way.  I’m planning to make at least a few more of these blocks before moving on to my next bullion stitch pattern.

This block will eventually end up going to Heartmade Blessings as part of the March 2012 Crochetlist charity challenge.  I’ll have to add a few more rounds to bring it up to 12″.

In other bullion news, I started to check out bullion crochet hooks on Lacis and Etsy (Sistermaide listing here).  If I’m still feeling excited about this stitch in another 30 days, I may even buy one.

For more Year of Projects posts, visit When Did I Become A Knitter.