December 28, 2008

Catching up...

Well, the holidays have made it difficult to keep up with my blog and my Etsy shop is looking a little sparse, but I've really enjoyed the rest and the time spent with family and friends. I've also been busy trying to navigate this crazy weather we've been having. Vancouver is not used to snow like this and the lack of snow plows in my neighborhood have made things very interesting. This is my back yard as seen on Christmas Day.

I've actually gotten quite a bit of knitting done for the shop - now I just need some time with my "models". I finished a new style of fingerless glove that I'm very pleased with, and I've made pairs in about 3 or 4 colors. I really hope to get a chance to photograph them soon, especially since I got a new camera for Christmas! It's a Fuji Finepix and I've been having lots of fun playing with it and getting comfortable. The biggest perk for me so far is the super macro feature, which I've been using to take shots like this.

There seems to be a bit of a grainy quality to some of the pictures I've taken, which I also read about in reviews (after I'd bought it). However, since most of the shots I've taken so far have been indoors and in low light, I'm remaining optimistic. I'm very eager to try it out in good light. Although I have less occasion to use it, the long distance focus also seems to be very good. 12x optical zoom is very decent for anything I'd need. This shot was taken from my doorstep, across the yard and into the back lane.

December 14, 2008

Cafe au Lait - Handspun Falkland wool yarn

Well, my poor little blog has been a bit neglected lately... With Christmas coming I've found the days slipping away more quickly than usual. Happily today I listed a new handspun yarn in my Etsy shop. I named it "Cafe au Lait" because it reminded me so much of the yarn I used for these gloves. This one is 133 yards of squishy worsted weight Falkland 2 ply.

"Cafe au Lait"

The roving was purchased from FatCatKnits on Etsy. This was my first time spinning Falkland and I must say I loved it! It was very well-prepped fiber and I'm a sucker for browns so I really loved watching the colors swirl together. I will definitely be popping back into this Etsy shop from time to time for more fiber!

Be sure to check in tomorrow for Etsy Monday!

November 27, 2008

Ember cowl on Etsy front page!

My "Ember" crocheted cowl made it to the front page of Etsy today, thanks to my model Krista and this amazing treasury featuring the diversity of Etsy!

A big thanks to Nina of BeadsinTheBelfry for including me in this awesome collection! Her shop is gorgeous as well - I love this little flower ring!

November 26, 2008

Afterglow - Handspun Superfine Merino yarn

I finally finished my fiber from the 2nd All Spun Up spin-a-long. A little behind this time around, since I've been knitting away so furiously over the last couple of months. I love the way this yarn turned out - I had a hard time deciding to list it in my Etsy shop!

"Afterglow" is 184 yards of 2 ply DK-light worsted weight handspun. The fiber was dyed by Kristin of AllSpunUp on Etsy. As always, the colors are incredible, and the Superfine Merino was a joy to spin. The yarn is soft, spring and super squishy!

November 24, 2008

Etsy Monday - Crooked Moon Mosaics

This week I'm featuring the very talented Lisa of Crooked Moon Mosaics. She creates beautifully detailed functional works of art from shards of colored glass and other sparkly things. Here's a gorgeous belt buckle made with glass and beads.

I found her in the forums on Etsy a few weeks ago and have been taken with her amazing shop ever since. I've featured her in a couple of treasuries, and I keep popping back in to check out what she's been working on. My favorite piece has got to be this incredible mosaic guitar. I can't imagine the time and patience that went into turning this old guitar into an amazing mosaic masterpiece! I couldn't resist including a nice big picture of it here. Her photography is gorgeous as well, and you can see more of it on her Flickr page.

I asked Lisa to answer a few questions to help us get to know her a little better. Mosaics have always fascinated me, so it's very interesting to read more about her craft. Here's what she had to share!

1. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/artisan?

I think I was predetermined to be an artist. My father is an accomplished sculptor and passed on that artistic gene to me. One of my very first memories is of a fish I made out of construction paper in Kindergarten. It was for a sea mural for the wall. The teacher loved it and I think that is when I knew that art would always be a part of my life. I was so damn proud of that fish!

2. How long have you been working with your medium and what first sparked your interest in it?

I’m not a big fan of the color blue (for decorating) but for some reason, blue glass always intrigued me. So I started taking some stained glass classes at a local shop about 10 years ago. I enjoyed it but being a perfectionist, I found myself getting disenchanted. Not being able to make those solder lines perfect frustrated me to no end! Fast forward 6 years and I found mosaics quite by accident. Because I am a starving artist, I work at a restaurant waiting tables. We have about 70 feet of windows with a 10 inch sill. The chairs hitting the edge of the sill and the moisture from the windows sweating, were causing the plaster to break off. It looked horrible. I suggested a tile mosaic to fix it and next thing I knew.... I was making it! While researching how to do that project I found some truly amazing artists who pushed the envelope on what most people think of when they hear the word “mosaic.” I couldn’t wait to experiment with the glass I already had and find my little niche in the mosaic world.

Mosaic Mirrors

3. What do you find most enjoyable/rewarding about your art/craft?
Taking shards of glass that alone look like nothing, and putting them together to make a picture or a design, fascinates me. Also, the endless choice of materials that you can use for mosaics. Though I love the sparkle of stained glass, using other materials such as marble, porcelain tile, pebbles and semi precious stones (just to mention a few) give dimension and drama to my work. Also the fact that you can mosaic just about anything! My work can be out in the garden, hanging on a wall or adorning your body. The only thing that stops you are the confines of your imagination.

4. Where do you find inspiration for your art/craft?

I am surrounded by shelves of jars, trays and boxes of my mosaic material which inspire me when I walk into my studio. I usually don’t plan out my designs, I’ll pick a color scheme first and then just go through my tesserae, putting pieces together till I like it, then glue it down. Also, other mosaic artists inspire me greatly. There are some that are truly masters at what they do.

5. What message or values do you wish to convey with your art? What does your art say to the world?

No message really, I’m not that deep!

6. Are there any other creative outlets that you use to express yourself? What are they and what do you enjoy about them?

Interior and garden design. I am constantly changing things around! When I was younger I would always rearrange the knicknacks in the house creating little vignettes. A few times my mother came home from work to find all the furniture in the family room moved around. She would get so mad ! I couldn’t help myself though. Through the years I have dabbled in many artistic endeavors including photography, painting and floral design.

7. Do you have any advice for other artists/artisans

Do what you love and love what you do.


In closing...

What's on the horizon for you right now?

I just finished up a guitar I’ve been working on, should have it in my Etsy shop this week. I’m about to start another full size guitar. Debating on doing a Beatles tribute or another abstract.

Are there any great websites you'd like to recommend?

My bookmarks are all mosaic sites! I recently joined ArtsinRI, a Etsy street team. It’s a very diversified group of talented artists from Rhode Island. You can find them at

To read past interviews with "Etsy Monday" featured artists, click here!

November 19, 2008

Out of this world Etsy Front Page

Okay forgive the blatant pun but this Etsy front page really is amazing. Created by duckduckGoosestuff on Etsy, this treasury was on the front page this afternoon and I immediately wanted to share it here. It's not often that you see a truly unique treasury, and the combo in this one is just so cool! I especially love the Orbit pendant, Jellyfish earrings and Gold Retro Rocket ornament.

Her shop is amazing too - just look at all that awesome jewelry! If my budget included treating myself to great handmade adornments, I would happily buy any one of these rings or necklaces. I love her original take on settings and her cool use of color and texture.

Ahhh, Etsy. Creative people promoting other creative people makes me really happy!

November 18, 2008

A New Look

I've just spent the last couple of hours giving the blog a make-over, and I'm loving the new look! I've lightened it up a bit to make it neater and cleaner looking, and added a third column. Over on the left is where you'll now find any advertising opportunities, such as Project Wonderful ad spaces, as well as links to other blogs and sites I'm following. On the right is a link to my Etsy shop and other places to find me online (Ravelry, indiepublic, etc), and all the other bloggy stuff like the label cloud and archive. Ahhh, organized!

Here's a screen shot of the old layout for comparison's sake:

And the new look:

And the new look

The part I'm really excited about is that I figured out how to work with the HTML and change this around by myself! Normally I'd go running to my web-designer brother to do it for me, but I was determined to learn how to do it. I'm pretty pleased with myself that I was able to persevere and accomplish what I set out to do! I've got to thank Amanda at BloggerBuster for the great tutorial that helped me do this!

November 17, 2008

Etsy Monday - Melody Sage

I'm kicking off my new "Etsy Monday" feature today. Mondays could use a little something, I thought, and it's a nice way to start the week - showing a little love to some of my favorite Etsy sellers. Each week I will feature a different shop - for more Etsy Monday features, click here.


First up is Melody Sage. She creates gorgeous works of art with pen and ink and sells prints and originals in her shop, Rain Garden Arts. Her work is rich with detail and each piece evokes a distinct mood, from optimistic to dark and contemplative.

"The Windows of the Soul"

A recurring theme I see in her work is the melding of human forms with elements from nature. This seems to me a reminder that we are part of the natural world, even when we think we've managed to remove ourselves from it. This has been on my mind a lot lately, so see it in Melody's work strikes a chord with me. And she's clearly not afraid of exploring the darker side of beauty, which I absolutely love!


I sent Melody a list of questions to give us an idea of who she is, what she does, and what it all means for her. Her answers are thoughtful and intriguing. I especially love her advise for other artists. Without further ado, here's Melody!

1. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/artisan?

I remember announcing I was going to be an artist when I grew up at the age of three. I am one of those lucky people who were born with a sense of purpose, although there years where I resisted it for my own convoluted reasons. I went through various phases where I said I wanted to be a filmmaker, a geneticist, an art therapist etc. Meanwhile I kept filling sketchbooks, and everyone kept expecting me to become an artist. I am so glad at twenty five that I finally listened to myself at three.

2. How long have you been working with your medium and what first sparked your interest in it?

Frustrated with pencil smudges at a young age, I turned to ink and never looked back. Working with pen is rigorous. An elbow bump can mean the waste of thirty hours, but I like it. The unforgiving medium means I have had to learn to adapt to errors or make fewer of them. I enjoy working with all materials, however. Recently I have begun experimenting with oil paints, archival markers, and pastel. I also like sculpture, although I carry none in the shop yet. On a day to day basis, I think I prefer the intimacy of a small watercolor or drawing I can hold in my lap and concentrate on.

3. What do you find most enjoyable/rewarding about your art/craft?

When I am immersed in a piece, I swing between soaring thrills of exhilaration, and periods of deep calm where word balloons of thought pass through my mind like clouds and dissolve. In particular I love the first pale glimmer of an idea, and the synchronous mistakes that take the work to surprising places. I love the waltz of concept and material, and the hours I forget to eat and do not notice my cup of tea went cold. When I look closely at any one moment I cannot articulate what exactly makes the process so fulfilling, but it is.

4. Where do you find inspiration for your art/craft?

Inspiration is mercurial for me. Sometimes I start a piece with no preconceptions to see what happens, more often I start with an idea. Ideas are like moths. They hover near sudden areas of illumination in the dark of my head, then fly and disappear, unless I pin them into a notebook with a couple descriptive lines or a quick awkward sketch. Later I page through and see the remnants of the silly, strange, and beautiful notions I have caught and forgotten. If the wings of the idea did not turn to dust, and it still has a halo of borrowed light, I begin a picture.

5. What message or values do you wish to convey with your art? What does your art say to the world?

I do not know what my art says to the world, only what it says to me. It speaks in many voices tinny and soft, musical and insistent, murmuring and loud as a thunderclap. If I could distill this into a single message, it would be that magic exists to be seen and created by each of us. Each person, each tree, each thing, each thought, is a precious universe of shared particles, nothing truly is separate, everything is connected.

6. Are there any other creative outlets that you use to express yourself? What are they and what do you enjoy about them?

Oh there are so many! I write poetry and fiction seriously and have been published in fifty plus literary magazines. My tiny squirrel’s nest apartment overlooking Lake Superior is filled with books and plants. I collect orchids, and dream of the day when I can have an actual garden. I take pleasure in dancing and improvising in the kitchen. I like to cut my own hair and dabble in crafts. All these outlets satisfy different aspects of me.

7. Do you have any advice for other artists/artisans?

Please be kind to your fellow artist. No one can understand the creative part of you better. The success of another person does not eclipse you, but casts more light for everyone. Any way you can, find a method to be happy, and make what only you can make.

In closing...

What's on the horizon for you right now?

I am doing an art bazaar at a local college. This is the start of my career, and the possibilities are exciting.

Are there any great websites you'd like to recommend?

These are not art websites but I love Verse Daily and FreeRice.

November 15, 2008

Snowscape - Handspun Alpaca Merino Silk yarn

I've had a bit of a dry spell for spinning, having been focused on knitting lots of warm Fall accessories for my Etsy shop. My goal is to finish one new yarn each week, starting tonight. I just added another new yarn to the shop, and it's a beauty! "Snowscape" is a luxurious blend of Alpaca, Merino and Silk that is so soft and has a beautiful drape. 125 yards of 2 ply sport weight.

I love the colors in this yarn. Light greys, golds and pinks mix with lots of natural white to create a dreamy winter soft palette. Ths Alpaca also lends a beautiful halo to the yarn that accentuates its delicate beauty.

I bought the roving for this yarn from Erica of Squoosh on Etsy. She also dyed the fiber for the equally dreamy Castle in the Clouds yarn. I love the way she leaves a good amount of white in a lot of her rovings, which creates a beautiful pastel effect. Here's the roving (photo borrowed from listing).

November 4, 2008

Etsy Mexicoteam Day of the Dead Contest

I was perusing the forums on Ravelry the other day and I came across an announcement for a contest being put on by Mexicoteam on Etsy. The contest involved searching through participating shops to find the Day of the Dead logo in a listing. I poked around the shops (finding a lot of great pieces in the process) and submitted my answers. Well, today I was told that I won! Very cool - I haven't won a contest in about 10 years!

Here are a couple of the talented artists I came across while looking through the mexicoteam shops. At The Cornfield Shop you can find beautiful baby carriers like this one, as well as sock monkeys, jewelry and more!

Norma from Cara Carmina sells absolutely gorgeous art dolls, cards and prints. I absolutely love this plush doll of hers - it's so quirky and cute and kinda spooky (in a really good way).

And here's what I chose as my prize - a set of cards from Cara Carmina featuring her Cyrano Dolls. It was a tough choice, since there were lots of great items available for me to choose from. I can't wait to see them!

I just wanted to let everyone know about the great artists of Etsy's Mexicoteam and thanks to all of you for putting on such a cool contest!

October 29, 2008

Reprieve - Crocheted button-up cowl

I've just listed a new crocheted neck warmer in my Etsy shop tonight. "Reprieve" is crocheted from a super soft wool blend in greys and white, with merlot red lucite buttons.

I love this yarn! This is the third cowl I've made with it and the first 2 have already sold! It is very soft and warm and I like the handspun look and flecks of color. I will be making a few more to replace the ones that have sold. I may even have to make one for me to keep :)

October 24, 2008

"Cafe au Lait" Fingerless Gloves

I have just added another new pair of wrist warmers to my Etsy shop this evening. "Cafe au Lait" gloves are knit in a beautiful wool blend yarn that is so soft. I am in love with the colors in this yarn - it blends from oatmeal to grey to tawny. So natural looking and comfy!

I also like how they are not a perfectly matched pair. This yarn has looooong color repeats, so I knit both gloves out of one stretch of color. I think this adds to the organic, natural look of the yarn.

The knit gloves and cowls I've listed in my shop so far have been met with a great response! Thanks so much to everyone who has checked them out, and to those who have ordered Black Mustard hand knit accessories! I will be happily knitting away this weekend to get the shop filled back up! Here's one more picture of the gloves, once again modeled by my lovely friend Angel.

October 21, 2008

Spectrum - Handspun Corriedale yarn

I've just listed another new yarn in my Etsy shop. "Spectrum" is 185 yards of soft and squishy Corriedale in the most beautiful muted rainbow colors.

This was my first time spinning Corriedale, and I really liked it! It's slightly less sproingy than Merino, but still very soft and has a lovely drape.

Here's the roving, purchased from Spindlefrog on Etsy. I love the colors she uses - her shop is a constant source of temptation for me. I bought another roving in similar colors to this one, but it's a BFL/Mohair blend. That will be shoving its way up in the line for my wheel for sure!

October 20, 2008

Dyeing Retreat with Mom

It's been a while since I've posted... there's been a lot going on in the meantime. I spent 5 days last week visiting my mom in Port Hardy at the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. We stayed in spinning, knitting, and dyeing all week and had a blast! My first few rovings are dried and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. Here's a merino/kid mohair blend that is super soft. I can't wait to spin it and see how the yarn looks. It ended up with pretty short color repeats, so I think I might try a single rather than a 2 ply, to keep it from getting too busy.

The other roving I did was a brown merino, which I over-dyed with pink, blue, green and orange. I love over-dyed brown fiber, so I'm looking forward to spinning this one as well.

My birthday present was a dye kit and a whole bunch of fiber - I'm so excited to get into dyeing and playing with color. I can already tell that it's going to be addictive.

October 6, 2008

Sweetness Cowl on Etsy Front Page!

My brand new "Sweetness" hand knit cowl was featured on the front page of Etsy today!! As far as I know this is the first time one of my pieces has been on the front page - or at least it's the first time I've gotten to see it. What a great birthday present!

There it is in the top left corner. It's already gone now, but I'm so excited that I got to see it and take this screen shot. Here's the cowl, once again modeled by the lovely Angel!

September 30, 2008

Diamond in the Rough - Hand knit wrist warmers

I'm so excited about these new fingerless gloves, now available in my Etsy shop! I've made them with an incredibly soft and cozy 100% SW Merino yarn, with embossed diamonds along the top.

Once again I've got to thank my lovely model Angel for helping me get such great pictures! We have so much fun doing our photo shoots, and I am absolutely thrilled with the results.

Right now these babies are available in Caramel and Grey (as shown). Keep an eye out for lots more colors coming soon! This yarn is quickly becoming one of my all time faves, and there are lots of colors available, so I'll be adding more just as fast as I can knit them!

September 27, 2008

New cowl featured in a treasury!

My brand new "After Apple Picking" cowl has been featured in a Treasury on Etsy! I love the color combo and theme - such an honor to be included alongside these talented artists!

There's Krista's pretty mug in the middle of the top row. A big thanks to wildhorses2007 who's shop, The Beauty Around Us, is gorgeous as well. Here's one of her beautiful fine art photographs.

I'm a big fan of black and white flower shots like this, but she also has quite a few pieces that capture the vivid colors of nature. Be sure to check her out!

September 26, 2008

Fall is finally here at Black Mustard Fiber Arts!

I want to say a huge thank you to my two lovely co-workers who did their thang in front of the camera for me today. Because of them I am finally able to get my new hand knit Fall accessories into my Etsy shop! We had so much fun on our lunch hour today, and the photos turned out perfect! The first 2 items I've listed are a couple of super-soft and warm cowls made from 100% Baby Alpaca yarn.

"After Apple Picking - Hand knit cowl"

This cowl looks amazing on Krista, who is stunning! I love her long wild hair and her strong features!

"Serenity Now - Hand knit button-up cowl"

I don't think Angel could be any cuter if she tried! The cream color looks so sweet on her. The button-up cowl can be worn in a variety of ways. Here she's got it pulled down onto her shoulders as a mini-poncho.

Thanks again, and I can't wait to stock the shop with more colors and styles!

September 25, 2008

Equinox - Handspun Merino Yarn

Here's my latest handspun yarn, which I'm so glad to be able to list in my Etsy shop. "Equinox" is 226 squishy yards of 100% Merino goodness.

Once again I spun this from roving dyed by Kristin at Allspunup. It's always a treat to work with her well-prepped fiber in the most amazing colors. I love the way this turned out!