Westervin Shop

Shop Update: Beaded Necklaces

Palmdale Necklace /// Westervin

Palmdale Necklace 

I like to visit bead shops when we travel. On our latest vacation, we spent a few nights at a great AirBnB in Nashville, and I made Brian go with me to a snazzy little bead shop in town. With his help, I was able to exercise restraint and only brought home a small bag of pretty beads. But even those few additions to be bead collection made me realize I had more than I needed. So on a bit of a whim, I woke up yesterday and, with coffee in hand, set about whipping up some one-of-a-kind necklaces while the morning sun lit my work table. 

Coeur D'Alene Necklace /// Westervin

Coeur D’Alene Necklace

It felt wonderful to finally make something again after a long creative-draught. Before I knew it, the afternoon rolled by and I’d created 8 necklaces, using some copper wire and leather cord I had. Piecing together the beads for each piece — from hand-painted glass beads to glazed ceramic ones to carved pieces of coral and marble — felt like a puzzle. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out; I ended up with 8 pieces, each one a special statement necklace.

Petaluma Necklace /// Westervin

Petaluma Necklace 

But! I couldn’t just add 8 new necklaces to my jewelry box. I just Kondoed it, remember? So, thinking of my poor little Etsy shop, alone and all but ignored these past few months, I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing the necklaces and listing them in the Westervin Shop. I shocked myself at how quickly it all came together. It’s as if each little bead was meant to find its way to me, be paired with other little bead friends and transformed into a special adornment, and eventually wind up in my shop, awaiting a new home. Will yours be the forever home of one of these necklaces? See them all here.

Hindsdale Necklace /// Westervin

Hindsdale Necklace 

Honey Hills Necklace /// Westervin

Honey Hills Necklace 

Mendota Necklace /// Westervin

Mendota Necklace 

Westervin Shop

Shop Update: Cubist Hats, Turban Headbands, and More Wristlets

Cubist Crochet Pom-Pom Cap by Westervin

Is the weather in your neck of the woods quickly changing from cool to cooler? Have you found yourself thinking to yourself, “oh dear, my head is feeling a little chilly,” while wandering about outside? Well, I’ve got the solution for you: KITTEN MITTENS! No, JK. But the new hats and headbands I’ve just listed in the Westervin shop might be of interest to you.

Cubist Crochet Pom-Pom Hats by Westervin

This mini collection of items now available features new, one-of-a-kind designs for my signature pom-pom hats, as well as my first line of headbands and a few more triangle wristlets. I’m quite excited about these special new hats, which were inspired by the handwoven floor mats of Hlynur Atlason, which depict “backyards and swimming pools as patterns from above.” Brilliant, right? I wanted to make something similar that could be worn — a statement piece for your head! Why not wear a work of art? Each cubist-like pattern of abstract shapes is unique; no two hats are alike. Using my own popular pom-pom hat pattern as the base, I set out to create a piece of knitwear that would transform as the wearer moved, that looked different from every angle. I’m very happy with how these babies turned out!

Cream & Rainbow Turban Headband by Westervin

Also new to the shop are a line of my all-time favorite accessory — my turban-style headbands. I would wear these year-round if I could. While they’re a little too warm for the summer, they provide the perfect amount of cozy warmth for the fall and mild winters. This headband design was the first crochet pattern I ever created on my own. It was also only the second piece I ever crocheted, about four years ago. The first was a simple gray cowl with a single-crochet stitch, which I still wear to this day. Then, because I am often overly confident and enthusiastic, I decided to create my own turban headband. [Side note: I am apparently a “Get Your Freak On” kind of knitter, according to the goddess Debbie Stoller in Stitch n’ Bitch. I learned this about myself during my first year of college back in good ole ’04 when I co-founded Hendrix College’s first and only (that I know of) Underground Knitting Society with two young women who would become my forever friends. The “Get Your Freak On” types knit and crochet by their own rules. This is still true in my case.] Well, after several frustrating attempts, I finally settled on this headband design with a popcorn stitch stripe and twisty top-not for that oh-so popular turban look. I lurb it. Especially with my new short little hairsy-do!

Black & Tan Turban Headband by Westervin

Triangle Crochet Wristlet by Westervin

And finally, in this new mini collection you’ll find a few more of the triangle crochet wristlets I started offering a couple months ago. The first batch nearly sold old within a week, so I figured I better update my stock. I must give the people want they want.

Triangle Crochet Wristlets by Westervin

Outtakes from the Westervin Shop Update #1

Oh, and just for giggles, I thought I’d share my best outtakes from the recent photoshoot. Forced smiles, blinks, and empty stares! I’m so good at modeling…

More Outtakes from the Westervin Shop Update

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Summer 2014

If you’ve wondered where Brian and I have been all summer, well, let me tell ya.

Sarah West Ervin graduates from Columbia College Chicago and moves to Arkansas

1. I graduated! In May of 2014, after three long years of evening classes and weekend papers, I donned my billowy gown and square cap to receive my masters hood and my Master of Arts Management degree in Arts Business and Entrepreneurship from Columbia College Chicago.

2. To celebrate, Brian and I spent a nice weekend with his parents and sister and a few of my classmates-turned-best-friends. We laughed. We cried (from laughter). We drank a lot of margaritas!

3. THEN WE PACKED UP OUR LIVES AND MOVED TO ARKANSAS. That’s right, folks. If you haven’t heard, we’re living in Fort Smith now, and we plan to be here for the next two years.

4. Arkansas, the land of fried-foods-a-plenty.

the new Arkansas home of Sarah West Ervin and Brian West

5. We’re living in this beast of a house, which is just a short walk and an evener shorter bike ride from the downtown strip and the Arkansas river. The house belongs to my mother, and Brian and I are doing our best to fix it up for her while she and my little brother live near my grandmother in Louisiana. This will be an adventure.

6. As an historic home—close to 100 years old, I believe—it’s full of old timey charm and interesting quirks. More on that to come…

7. My favorite part? The house is big enough for me to have my very own studio! It’s a dream come true. It’s all a bit of a mess right now as we search for furniture and storage solutions, but I can’t wait to show you the progress.

8. We also love having our own outdoor space, complete with a porch swing and our little herbs. Pictured above are Umberto, the chocolate mint, and Dilly, our sweet baby dill plant.

Sarah West Ervin's new haircut and birthday fun

9. Not long after we got here, I decided to get a haircut. Yup, I had it all chopped off!

10. This is Sugars! We found her on our porch during a rainstorm. She was near death, so we rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, got her some medicine and nursed her back to relative health over a few days. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep her, nor could we find anyone to adopt her. In the end we had to take her to the Humane Society, where they said they’d take good care of her and find her a happy home. It broke my heart to say goodbye to her tiny precious face, but our own two cats (the little rascals) are about all we can handle.

11. I turned 28! My birthday celebrations were just perfect and included many beautiful handmade presents, breakfast in bed, flea market fun, digging in the mud for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, and a picture-perfect picnic. I’m so grateful to everyone who called, texted, visited, and sent happy wishes in the mail!

12. We didn’t find any diamonds, but we did find a lot of mud!

Brian West and Sarah Ervin attend the weddings of Sarah and Patrick Staub; Carolyn Sybesma and Ali Porter

13. We got to travel to Miami for the wedding of Brian’s very nice cousin Patrick and his sweet bride Sara. The guests were warm and friendly, the food was delish, and music was lively. We had a blast!

14. After the wedding, the Wests took a family vacation to Key West. Man, oh man, was it a perfect trip.

15. & 16. A week later, we got to travel back to Chicago to be a part of the wedding of two of our dearest friends, Carolyn & Ali. I even got to be the flower girl! It was so nice to spend time with our besties again in Chicago. I miss you all already!

 

Westervin Handmade Shop Update

17. & 18. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been busy as a bumble bee making some new items for the Westervin shop.

19. & 20. And I’ve been making plans for selling at craft fairs this holiday season. Brian helped me whip up some booth displays.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. Now that our lives have settled down a bit, you’ll be hearing more from us regularly. Stay tuned!

Blog News, The Business of Making, Westervin Shop

Some Thoughts on Crafting a Business and a Westervin Shop Update

Boy howdy have I been busy lately! You’ve probably heard the news by now: I’ve decided to start a career as a maker. In case, you haven’t noticed, however, I’ve opened the Westervin shop, with a yacht-load of help from Brian. I’m in love, ya’ll. I’m in love with being a maker.

Until now, I haven’t shared much insight into my recent leap into self-employment. If you’re interested, I’m ready to share a little about my motivations, aspirations, and expectations, as well as an update on how the shop has been progressing over the last two months.

New Gold Scissors!

{ My new scissors! Sarah West Ervin on Instagram }

Many of our readers might think of me as a blogger first and foremost. Brian and I have been writing here for over four years now, during which time I’ve mainly focused on finishing graduate school while working full-time in a couple different administrative-type jobs. This left little time for crafting, so instead, I filled this blog with the art- and craft-works of others, which is fun but requires less of an investment.

For many years before Westervin (the blog), however, I would have considered myself mainly a craftsperson. In high school, I didn’t have a regular job. Instead, I made extra cash making clothing, jewelry, and purses and selling them to my classmates. Then in college, I started an online shop—again, with tons-o-help from Brian—selling vintage clothing as well as fine art and crafts, made by myself and other students and local craftspeople. It was pretty successful, too! I even placed 2nd in our school’s business plan competition and got a little interview in the school newspaper (thanks to Rosemary!). But then Brian and I moved to Chicago after graduation, and our little shop fizzled out. It was too difficult to maintain here in the city, without all the free resources we had on campus (free models!) and the lower costs of doing business in Arkansas (MUCH cheaper vintage there). So we put the business aside and decided to focus on getting “real jobs.” Sadly, I also slowly stopped all the creative activities that I felt defined me: sewing, knitting, drawing, photography, making jewelry.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover's Red

{ Crocheted Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover’s Red }

And then one day, not but a few months ago, I had something of an epiphany while sitting quietly by myself at the hair salon, waiting for my color to set, with no phone or magazine to distract me. That epiphany, as you’ve probably guess by now, was realizing what I really want out of my professional life. I need to make things. I need to be creative, I prefer to work for myself, and I have a particular set of skills and experiences—in both art and business—that will help me become a successful full-time maker. It seems obvious now, but it took a few years to accept this idea as a truly viable career path and let go of the stability and comfortable routine of regular, full-time employment. Finally accepting it has been so freeing! I no longer feel like I’m on the outside looking in when blogging about the handmade works of others. I’m also looking forward to handmade exchanges with other makers!

So within a month of my epiphany, I was working at home, refining my crochet skills, and crafting up a line of hats for my debut launch of the Westervin shop.

My first month after opening the Westervin shop was a whirlwind. The timing—just a few weeks before Christmas—couldn’t have been better. I celebrated my first order within a few days, and the sales kept steadily rolling in over the next few weeks. Some customers bought more than one hat, because they seem to make great gifts! And all the amazing press & promotions I received that first month was just a dream! I was featured in the Dallas morning news, and my hats were liked, purchased, and shared by several Etsy admin. And more than a few hats were featured on the Etsy trending pages. Oh my lucky stars! I had to pinch myself.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloth Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream }

But then Christmas came and went and business slowed down. My inventory depleted more quickly than I had anticipated, more quickly than I could recover from, so my shop looked a little dismal for a while. Then I was quickly met with the challenges of the creative process. I struggled for weeks, trying to make new and different pieces, but nothing seemed good enough. The highs of my early success were later balanced by blinding frustration when my creative skills kept falling short of my aesthetic standards. This is something I’m sure many people can relate to.

I also struggled with the inevitable uncertainty and risk that comes from starting any business, let alone a creative one. I know my current business model lacks the potential for long-term sustainability. Different ideas for diversifying my revenue streams (business school, much?) have been percolating in the back of my mind, but I keep searching for a unifying thread to make all my ventures consistent.

All of this is made even more complicated by the sudden life change. It’s not just my daily routine that’s completely shifted but also my identity and goals for the future. I’ve gone from full-time employee and part-time graduate student to maker/business owner/housewife/grad student/blogger. And then there’s the guilt! The guilt of making a huge personal decision that has huge effects on someone else’s life—my husband’s—is a difficult thing to rectify, regardless of how completely supportive and encouraging he is. Actually, his selflessness only makes me feel worse! Geez. I’m terrible at juggling. I still haven’t found the right balance.

Oh, and one other thing. A note to all you hard working, organized, perfectionists out there. You may think that you could maintain your internal motivation and detailed scheduling system if you were to suddenly find yourself working from home or for yourself. I certainly did. But trust me—when you no longer have an office outside your house to go to, when you don’t have a boss near you, when you don’t absolutely NEED to wear pants… You will find yourself tested to your limits. And you might be unpleasantly surprised by the results.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink }

In the last few days, however, I’ve started to find a little more peace, a little more structure amid the madness. I’ve added a few new items, which you see here, to the shop. My skills are improving, and I’m enjoying the variety in my work. I think my inventory is a little more well-rounded, but I’m still focusing only on crochet for now. I still have a few hats for sale, though I’ve sold almost all the ones from my first batch!

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Stone Necklace in Teal

{ Crocheted Charcoal Gray Stone Necklace in Teal }

Though I still struggle with all the uncertainty and frustration of starting something new, I know that I’ve made the right decision for both myself and my family. If I never tried, than I’d always regret it. And boy am I so much happier now! I feel like myself again–optimistic, creative, independent. I’ve got a big, beautiful vision for the future, so I hope you’ll stick around to watch or even be a part of the journey! In the short-term, Brian and I will be making some updates to the blog, making it and the shop more cohesive in look and content. I think you’ll appreciate the coming changes…

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam }

Oh, and one final note. I’ve received a bit of feedback lately that’s been incredibly reinforcing. The positive reception from my friends, family, readers, and new customers has been overwhelming. Thank you to the moon and back! It’s an addictive high when someone else loves what you create.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloths in Oyster, Cream, and Navy

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Oyster, Cream, and Navy }

I’m so grateful that I’m able to make things with my hands, but the creative process is made a thousand times more rewarding when my creations are loved by others. Here’s a message from a recent satisfied customer:

“Sarah, the hat arrived today, and I wanted to tell you that, “YOU MADE MY HEAD SO HAPPY’.” 99% of the time I love what I buy on Etsy, and 1% of the time I am OUT OF MY MIND WILDLY IN LOVE WITH WHAT SOMEONE MADE FOR ME ON ETSY. The hat is in that 1% spot. I knew it would look nice–I never imagined the texture and colors would surprise and please all my senses in such a big, beautiful way. Thank you so much. You may now consider me a regular customer. Perfectly sweet in the way a woman of any age can feel fun all over!!!” — Carol

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom

{ Crocheted Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom }

Wow. Can we talk about that quote for a minute? So many things! Joyful and sweet and genuine and a little quirky! Now, I know I have a few Westervin readers of the creative variety—craftsters and makers and Etsy shop owners… maybe even a few who are hoping to start selling their work. Tell me what you’re up to! I’d love to know where your creative adventures have taken you, and any advice you can offer this newby maker would be much appreciated.

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Westervin Shop Now Open!!!

peach and gray handmade pompom hat by Westervin

Hello dear readers! We’ve been quiet here lately because we’ve been transitioning through some big changes. I’m no longer working full-time, and I’ve finally decided to embrace my creative, entrepreneurial aspirations. These hands were made for crafting!

After a few (too many) years of school and a short career in business administration/marketing, I’m finally following my crafty fingers to a more fulfilling life as a maker and craft-focused blogger. Leveraging what I know and love, I’ve just launched my shop on Etsy as an extension of our blog, creating crochet accessories and home goods. I hope to soon add other textiles-based goods using embroidery, quilting, and dyeing as I expand my fiber arts repertoire.

Check out the Westervin shop!

AND take advantage of our Cyber Monday Sale: FREE SHIPPING on all orders worldwide placed Monday, December 2. Use coupon code: CYBERSHIP13

mint and brown handmade pompom hat by Westervin

teal and maroon pompom hat handmade by Westervin

teal and brown handmade pompom hat by Westervin