Friday, January 29, 2010

Warm Memories

This picture is dated 1975. That's me on the left and my older sister Karen on the right. The weird line across the picture above is from the plastic sleeve of the photo album. I didn't want to take the picture out to scan it. I love the weird compositions in snapshots. Karen's face is clearly in the center. I'm off to the side, but still nicely in the frame. The pink chair on the side and the bottom of the picture frames, well, those add interest to the side and top, right? Or, for me, it firmly locates the picture in my grandparent's formal living room. I remember fondly this coat, and later Karen's coat when I grew into it, and the detachable hoods with faux fur lining and black drawstrings. 

I've been a hood-kick lately. Designing and making hoods for adults that are playful, nostalgic, warm, and one of a kind, like this one. I love red and blue together and I've been inching my way towards more complex color switching and patterning. After finishing this project I can confidently say that I have this skill. Images are next! Playing with the geometric patterns was fun and easy. No mistakes here. The gusset is new too. I've been creating blunted points for the hoods by angling the last few inches and knocking off the sharp point. Here I stitched it up straight, as usual, then repositioned it and stitched straight across to create the gusset, which I tacked to the side-back, rather than the top. On the whole, I'm very pleased with this project. I can't wait to think of my next design.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Through the woods

After working on this piece for two weeks and three attempts at photography, I finally listed my newest item. I'm not totally happy with the images, but maybe I need to walk away from it. This is a kind of bizarre piece - not your normal hat to toss on when it's cold. I wanted to push myself so I completed the alternating zigzag pattern by counting stitches and rotating yarns. After the piece was felted I started to work on the brim and embroidery. I'm new to embroidery so it may appear a bit rough, but this is a lovingly handmade piece and I figured that would add to the quirkiness. It was made to be an exception to daily life, a kind of talisman providing escape to a world that actually does get cold, where are there forests to walk through, and wildlife to wonder at. It's still January, but it has been in the 70s this week already. I imagine this hood with a layer of powdery snow across the brim when extended. I can dream.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Leaf-ing Update

After attending the SASSY Virtual Labs critique last week and receiving some much needed advice from a member (thanks CricketsCreations!), I just had to do something about my photography. It's just a start, but here are my NEW photos of the leaf pins. I reshot the flowers too and the combo images. Whew, thank goodness the photos are actually getting better. I was so relieved to have the lightbox that I didn't realize the photos just weren't there yet. Now, I feel like I'm a bit closer. It feels so good to make progress! This lovely mild sunny January day has now been pressed into my leaf pin photos.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Circling back

Happily my hands have been busy and I've posted a few new items today from the Everyday Circle Scarf series. I have five completed and one more in black that is almost done. The circle scarves were really fun to play with. I did notice that some are much longer than others! They range from 28 to 40 inches. Oops. I'll probably make a few more since they are so fast.

Other projects I'm working on include a hood in olive green and coral with a zigzag pattern created by alternating colors and some new crocheted button pins with rusched fabric bits. I'm trying to challenge myself to incorporate new materials into my crocheted pieces and to try to master new techniques. I am stretching my ability to concentrate on the hood, counting and switching colors frequently, but the pattern itself is very easy. In the end I plan to felt it, so mistake-forgiveness is built in.

I'm also happy to report some numbers. My Etsy shop is just shy of 800 hearts, my shop now has 63 items, and my highest viewed item is almost to 3600. I'm still mulling over my goals for 2010 and how they might look in hard numbers, but I'm encouraged the recent activity. Also, as part of my 2010 plan, I sorted out my bookmarks and revisited some of the great links that have been recommended, which led to my reading a 25-page guide to SEOs. Finally, this trip down the rabbit hole of links lead me back to, a website I discovered and joined in 2005. Amazingly my login still works! And my avatar was a platypus skeleton? What?! Oh yeah. Well, we all change over time. I'm looking forward to exploring the "new" Craftster and showing off my super-duper skills. I remember how comforting it was to first find Craftster. I spent so much time there. I've come a long way since 2005.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Think of this post as a tiny memorial to an item that sold that I now miss. I ordered handspun tomato orange flecked mint yarn from circuspony and was giddy when I saw that it was even more amazing than I had thought! I worked and reworked the body of the hood three times because I kept running out of that yarn. I added the alternating squishy orange alpaca rows and finally went and bought the cream wool to be able to finish it. I then added the ruffle at the bottom, just because! Well, to balance the design and add an extra touch of whimsy.

I don't work with handspun yarn as often as I would like, so I feel like I have a special obligation to take someone else's beautiful work and try to do my absolute best with it. This hood sat proudly on my hat stand at the Etsy Jinglebash last Fall and was featured on a few blogs before making it to the front page two days before Christmas and finally selling on Christmas day! I'll make other hoods, but this one was magical.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blue Skies and a New Day

It's the first work day of the new year and I'm busy-busy. I was sick most of last week but managed to add over 30 items to my little shop, plus three more to photograph and list today or tomorrow. Now that I'm listing smaller items, with successful photos, I've been catching up on inventory. But enough of this boring talk, it's Monday of a new week of a new year!

I have so many new ideas. I'm really excited about sharing my designs from yesterday, a mohair shrug and two scarves in a new design. Maybe it was being sick and watching lots of movies that helped me keep my rhythm, but I was mighty productive yesterday. Thanks Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby! I watched "Blue Skies", featuring those two fellows and I felt down-right lazy after watching all the tapping and dizzy from all the saturated colors. Such gorgeous costumes too. By the way, that movie has the strangest plot. It is surprisingly dark and empty-feeling for a movie with so many song and dance numbers.

Meanwhile, here's a peek at what the flowers and leaves that I've been posting lately looked like before completion. I do love color.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Small Items Paradox

I'm still working on my personal New Year's resolution list, but it certainly includes spending more time trying to figure out how to make modestambition work. I know that I need to treat it more like a business than just an extension of my hobby. For example, I can make all kinds of things and often I choose the things that are the most exciting and most challenging to me. But as a business, I am often confused about what to make and who my customer is.

I have learned a very clear lesson from the craft shows that I participated in this last year, all five of them (two in the Spring, one in the fall, and two closer to Christmas). In person, different items sell than online, for many reasons I'm sure including how the product looks in person, how long the customer wants to spend shopping, and who that audience is. Smaller, lower priced items sell better at craft shows. I've sold hundreds of crocheted button pins in person, received 2,614 views on that item at this date, and sold just a handful online. I've tweaked the listing, played with the price and even taken it down for awhile, but it continues to draw traffic, so it's back. I've included them in samplers, team giveaways, craft show goody bags, etc. Sometimes I get really tired of that item, but then I find myself eager to make more - new color combinations, more scraps of yarn to use, new button finds!

The Heidi Bobby Pin was developed as a craft show (in person) item. I made just a few bobby pins in the spring and they did pretty well. By fall, I decided to re-merchandise them and I developed the elaborate collaged card with a paint sample front, my business card info, and scenes and text from a vintage children's book "Heidi" on the back. They were a big hit! I almost sold out at the Etsy Jinglebash. So here they are, online now.

I took my time figuring out how to photograph them. I found tutorials, built a light box, and finally posted a big batch of them.
I think they are an adorable small item and a good gift. Domestic shipping is free, so that won't be the issue. So, the question is how does this sell in person vs. online? I'm going to start making larger crocheted button pins that will be photographed and listed individually. Let's see how this goes.