Top Droppers

Today is top dropper day so let me take a moment to say thanks to all my entrecard buddies. Of all the promotional tools I have discovered the last 6 months entrecard is by far my favorite, and it is because of you guys. I love all my droppers, even the ones who just drive in and out. To those of you who stick around and leave a comment once and awhile I hope to return the favor as much as possible. I hope you will take a few minutes to check out these awesome blogs and if they aren't on your regular dropping route then they really should be:

My gypsygoods
: Life, creative moments, saving money, nature, eco-friendly tips. Supporting the handmade community

Alteredevents: My Unique Altered Accessories Costume Fantasy Shop Blog for special events. *Supporting the Handmade Community one click at a time.

Silver Sachet: A wonderful online shop that sells fine quality .925 Sterling Silver jewelry. Rings, earrings, bracelets, chains, necklaces, bangles, and more.

jealousydesign: unique Swedish jewelry and design elements

More Than Sew So: Crafts, hobbies, this, that and everything in between.

time2cre8: beadweaving, art, stationery, and all kinds of things!

A Rose By Name: the beadweaving process, jewelry, art, ideas.

Kitchen Retro: What do strange retro ads, bizarre old recipes, and all manner of retro stuff have in common? They are weird and funny, that's what - come and have a laugh or two at them!

Tialey Vintage Clothing: The happenings of running an online business, information about vintage clothing and handmade items, updates of new items on Tialey Vintage and everyday musings.

The Frugal Housewife: The Frugal Housewife blogs about her family's journey into frugal living.


Blogger, and Twitter, and Facebook Oh my!

Does anyone else get overwhelmed by all the different methods of promotion and on-line communication? I remember a time when we didn't even have personal computers and I'm not that old. Now my husband and I have at any given time between 3-5 computers of some kind in the house. Only one of them is mine but he has a personal laptop, a work laptop, a personal computer, and a Mac in the basement of a band mate that they use for recording. (The above card is from Simply Sentimental on Etsy).

I have been slowly incorporating different sites into my daily life and I'm beginning to feel overload. I don't want my promotion and networking to take over my life so that I end up spending less time knitting and have nothing to promote. Initially when I started my shop I would spend some time each day promoting on the etsy forums. This seems to be where most people start and it can be a useful tool to get hearts and meet people in the community. I am pretty over it to be honest and I go there less and less as time goes by. I poke in for a few minutes here and there and post a few thoughts, do a little promotion if I have an item that isn't getting much love.

My next venture was Flickr which is just for downloading pictures. It is free but you pay to set up a premium account and get more room and categories. I posted a ton of product pictures and a few personal and band pictures. I joined some crafting and etsy related groups and posted pictures to their pages. I still go in periodically but I don't think I've ever gotten a sale from it and I don't find it too satisfying at this point.

I started my blog around 6 months ago. I started out with low expectations but it has been a very fulfilling adventure so far. I'm approaching my 100th post and I average between 150-200 hits a day according to google stats. I know a lot of them are entrecard drops but I try to keep up with a lot of crafting and creative blogs on there and I feel that is generally reciprocated. I really don't know how that compares with other blogs but I honestly don't care. I like the connection I feel to other bloggers. I'm an introvert by nature and I think that blogging has been good for me. I've also gotten several custom orders and sales from readers so it has been the most productive on-line promotional tool for me so far.

Joining Entrecard has brought a lot of new bloggers into my sphere and I like the dropping process. It is a soothing and meditative activity for me usually. I can do it on my lunch hour and since my work computer is so fast I can get most of my daily 300 in during that time. I can usually find a few minutes here and there when I'm not with students to write a post and leave comments on other blogs during the work week also. I've decided that since my home computer takes so much longer to bring up pages and do my drops I'm going to keep it to a minimum on the weekends and focus on knitting time. This will hurt my entrecard rating but that is not as important as having the inventory I need for my business.

I recently added Facebook and Twitter to my daily doings. I really like that Facebook has reconnected me with people from my past that I've lost track of through the years. I started a shop business page to let people that already know me know what I'm doing with my knitting. Many of them had no idea about my business and I've gotten a lot of hits and compliments on my work. I see facebook as more about connecting and less about promotion, although a little promotion is definitely involved.

Twitter is much more of a promotional thing for me. To be honest I feel a bit like I'm yelling into the wind with Twitter. I have over a hundred followers after only a week of active tweeting but I don't think any of them are really listening. I decided I needed to give it a chance before I decided whether I wanted to really do it. People are always saying how many sales they have gotten from it and how wonderful it is so I'm trying to keep an open mind. I sometimes feel silly saying what I'm doing in 140 words or less. I feel with my blog I am actually reaching and expressing at least part of the real me. Tweeting seems more superficial and fake somehow to me. I have gotten a number of views when I've posted my new listings and what not so I think I'm going to keep it up for awhile and see if it grows on me.

I have a page on Etsy love, Myspace, and a few other networking sites but I've not added any content or spent much of any time there. What promotional tools have you found to be the best use of your valuable time?


My rainbow

I do little quizzes on line when I'm bored but I never post the results here, until now. This one came out pretty dead on and I really don't see how it got this out of the questions it asked. The only thing that I might quibble with is the tranquil part. I have my tranquil moments but I can also be pretty intense at times, but in a very tranquil way I suppose. I liked the format of the quiz also, very thoughtfully done. I didn't even do the tie breaker answers so it got this purely from my word choices. Let me know if you get a similarly eerie result.

For some reason it won't let me copy the rainbow picture, but trust me the colors are exactly like one of my favorite scarves in my shop right now, pictured above.

Your Rainbow

Your rainbow is shaded blue and violet.

What is says about you: You are a tranquil person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You share hobbies with friends and like trying to fit into their routines. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.



Back in December when I first learned about the effects to small businesses selling toys of the new law CPSIA I blogged about it here. Since then a lot has been talked about on line and Etsy has even set up a forum category for sellers to discuss its effects and ways to fight it here. I have e-mailed my congressman and e-mailed friends and family to try to get them involved also.

Today is a blogger awareness day and the lovely sellers Winklepots and Chichiboulie have written this explanation of all the people and industries that will be disrupted or destroyed by this well meaning but seriously flawed law. If you haven't read it already please take a minute to become informed. It is actually shocking how much this will hurt our way of life. (The happy little painting above is by Chichiboulie, she is a French artist whose work I would be proud to put in any room and would be perfect for a child's domain. Winklepots has cute clothes for kids and adults in her collection as well.)

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1322

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189645948879745.html

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.


For Him

Last year I had several people ask if I ever made scarves for guys. I really tried to do it and even started a category "for him" in my etsy shop but not a single item sold out of it. I ended up gifting a few of them for Christmas this year and retired the category. I know that not many men shop on etsy but I did think more women would be likely to shop for gifts for their guy.

I made my husband a scarf this weekend since I was embarrassed by the one he had been wearing. I made him a nasty acrylic scarf when I first started knitting and then I had made him a really nice alpaca cabled one last year. He refused to wear the nice one saying it wasn't wide enough. I also made his best friend Chris a burgundy and black striped one as a gift this year that I forgot to get a picture of. When I was trying to make scarves for guys I would get bored quickly and would end up doing something which the guys would say was too girly. I think the one I made for Mike this time is a nice compromise. I used a soft soy/wool blend in a variegated and solid mixed up so there are lots of different stripes in a basic seed stitch. It's all manly colors and yet it stayed interesting for me with the color changes. He refused to stop playing his computer game for me to take a decent picture so that is the best pic I could get.

I don't know if I want to bother with making more manly scarves or not. If I do I will probably not market them that way. I may just make neutral ones and call them unisex or something. I thought this one, still in the shop, called Ribbed for Your Pleasure was a nice unisex but the guys said there were little flecks of pink in it so they wouldn't wear it. I did get Chris to model it last year when I was first setting up shop. I actually really like it and can't believe it's still around. I should probably redo the pictures on it and renew it.

What do you think? Do your guys wear scarves and would you look for them on-line?


Etsy Party!

If you haven't checked it out already you should totally head over to Bella Casa's blog party to celebrate Etsy. She's got promo's and giveaways galore. It's such a sweet idea for her to promote us sellers in this bleak time of year. Her blog is one of my regular entrecard hangouts. She always has great shopping and decorating ideas and she definitely has an eye for the unique and creative. I had every intention of getting more involved and offering up a giveaway but somehow it snuck up on me.

Here is the list of generous and fabulous sellers who have item up for grabs this week:

Fabulous Etsy Party Giveaways --- Thank You All!


75th Sale Sale!!!!

So I was going to do a Saturday Night Special, a regular forum thread for specials on Saturday night, to celebrate my 75th Sale on Etsy but I decided to just keep it between us. So for the remainder of the weekend I'm going to have a little celebration for my blog readers. Lets make it through midnight Sunday. How about free shipping in U.S. and 15% off. Just put "75th Sale Sale" or whatever you want to say to me in the message to buyer. If you want something out of my 1000 Markets shop just let me know and I'll adjust the price and reserve it for you. For Etsy you can either check out and wait for a revised invoice or go ahead and pay and I'll refund the difference.

I always struggle with sales to be honest. Pricing in general is my least favorite part of the business. I know when I'm shopping sales on Etsy I look for the big deals like 50% off or BOGO but I feel guilty about it afterward. I know that the seller has to be practically giving it away and I hate that for them. So I know I'm not offering a tremendous special but hopefully you can still respect me in the morning! If you have been eyeing something in the shop please join me in celebrating my 75th. I just listed the linen blend scarf above. It is perfect for cool mornings and those who have wool issues.


Tag You're It

Well it appears that I have been tagged with the ever present "You've been tagged" game by the delightful blogger Karlana. Her blog is worth checking out if for no other reason than the happy, smiling kids in her banner. They always put a smile on my face when I click over and she always has something interesting to say to boot!

I assumed it would come my way eventually so I'd given a few minutes of thought to it so here goes. According to the rules of this tag, I am supposed to share seven random, and/or weird things about myself and then nominate seven more people to award for great Blogs!

  1. I met my husband on a blind date/double date. When I got to the place we were meeting there was only one guy, and I assumed wrongly that it was the other person's husband. I finally found out half way through that I was actually on a "date". We laughed about it for the rest of the night and I think the mix up actually broke whatever tension there usually is with that initial blind date period.
  2. I have 2 tattoos on my back. One is a sun/moon and the other an Egyptian eye. I never wear clothes that show them off however since I'd have to wear sleeveless/cropped shirts which would be a fashion no no at my age/weight.
  3. I have lost and gained the same 40 pounds at least 5 times in my life. I always hope it's the last time but it hasn't stayed away yet.
  4. I grew up on a farm but I really don't like being outside or around animals. I always thought growing up that there must be a city girl out there somewhere that really wanted to be on a ranch and I should have been in her place. My family thinks I'm depriving my husband of a pet but he really only likes other people's animals, such as the puppies we sat for last year, in the picture above with him.
  5. I was considered the "rebel" and troubled one in my family. People find this ironic now for some reason.
  6. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 21. I still have a fear of driving in unknown places. I'm fine in my "comfort zone" but my friends all know that they will have to drive if we go anywhere in the city.
  7. I didn't start knitting until 5 years ago. It is such a part of my identity now that it seems like I've been doing it forever. I have gone through many other phases but this one finally feels like something that will be with me for the long haul.
I don't know if these people have been tagged before and I will not be offended if you chose not to play. They are all blogs that I read regularly and I legitimately would like to know more about them!

  1. NICO Designs
  2. Sweetwater Designs lampwork Glass
  3. The Copper Cauldron
  4. Crafts and Cooking
  5. Jenny Karisson Design
  6. Coloraddiction
  7. Unlikely Oilfield Wife


You Touch it You buy It

A new study discussed in Live Science finds that people were likely to pay more for an item if they were allowed to hold the item first and form an attachment. This is exactly why I prefer selling at craft shows over on-line. Here is a quote from the article by Andrea Thompson, Senior Writer:

"A new study suggests that just fingering an item on a store shelf can create an attachment that makes you willing to pay more for it.

Previous studies have shown that many people begin to feel ownership of an item — that it "is theirs" — before they even buy it. But this study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, is the first to show "mine, mine, mine" feelings can begin in as little as 30 seconds after first touching an object."

Understanding this concept from a seller's perspective is really important. If I can get my scarves into people's hand where they can touch and try them on they are much more likely to buy. Pictures just can't recreate that experience. The scarf above is made from 100% alpaca. You don't know from the picture how amazingly soft and indulgent it feels. I can tell you that it really is worth more than the $43 I'm asking for it but unless you feel it and fall in love you won't get it.

This really solidifies my business plans for next year. I want to not only do more craft shows but also try to get my items into people's hands at boutiques in the area next fall. On-line sales are just not going to cut it for me. I will continue to build a presence on-line and have a place to send my customers that find me at craft shows. I had at least one good sale come from someone who touched my items at a show this year and then came on-line to buy 3 scarves the next week.

I can totally relate as a buyer also. I know that when I pick something up and start to picture the item in my life I am much more motivated to "buy now". I have a pretty good imagination and as long as the pictures are good I can have a similar experience shopping on line. I really try to have my pictures not just accurately reflect the colors but also the tactile experience of the fabric. I don't know how well I did with this scarflette. I don't know if you can really see how amazingly soft the Extra Fine Merino Wool/ Angora/ Nylon blend yarn is. The scarves that sell quickly on-line are ones that I'm somehow able to capture that softness in a picture. I think some people are also more "visual shoppers" while others are more tactile. I would love to find a way to reach both of them on-line but for now I will just have to work on my pics and continue to look for venues to carry my items in person.


What's New Wednesday: Neutrals

If you hadn't noticed I'm a bit of a color fanatic. I love combining different colors in fun ways. The brighter the better. I know not everyone shares this same color obsession and even I have days when I would rather hide in a gray ensemble. But in general my wardrobe consists mostly of deep, rich colors with a few bright pinks thrown in. This is what I prefer to knit as well and I get bored pretty quickly when working with one color at at time.

My plan for next year is to get into as many indie shows in the area as possible. One thing that really jumped out at me from the Big Ass Indie Show was that all of my primarily black or gray scarves sold out. So this has led me to the conclusion that I need to include more neutrals, primarily blacks, in my repertoire. Here are two recently added items to my etsy shop and one scarflette from my 1000 Markets shop. The black and white scarflette has a fun twist, the white yarn is glow in the dark. If you hold it under the light for a few minutes it will glow. How cool is that? I bought some more of it in yellow on sale at Michaels a few weeks ago and I'm debating what I want to do with it. I like how the picture came out for the short scarf above but unfortunately the cool Asian, black and white beads that are on the bottom got lost in the rocks. I have some other close ups in the listing that show them off.

So it may be hard for me but look for more black in my collection next year. I have to keep all my goth buyers happy!


Hope Over Fear

Regardless of your political views I hope you can take a moment today to fell the surge of hope that has spread throughout the country today. I can feel it and I hope you can too. It may not be easy and from what I understand about his speech, unfortunately I didn't catch it live, but Obama knows it's going to be a tough road ahead. I think some people were wanting a soaring speech of rhetoric, but he gave us a taste of reality and what is ahead for us in this country. But above all he gave us hope. That may not be much but it is more than we've had the last few years. I really think he can change the way things are going. I believe it in my heart. I know there is a lot of fear about the economy and the wars but I really want to believe that there is a possibility that things will get better, if not tomorrow than in the next 4 years. I hope you believe it too.

Many Etsy artists have items listed to share this hope in art and in jewelry for all the world to see. The painting above is by one of my favorite's Allisonstrine. The necklace is from BellaTuJewelry. It is a simple, yet powerful piece to let people know how you feel.


Project Complete

It seems forever ago that I blogged about my custom order for wedding party jewelry. Well, I can finally check that project off my list. The bride has been incredibly patient and the wedding isn't until this summer but it had still been hanging over my head and I really wanted to get them in the mail. I finished the bracelets but getting together with my friend to make the matching earrings was a challenge with the holidays and various illnesses the past few months. They were a very simple design so I probably could have done them myself but I wanted it to be perfect since they were for such an important event and I've never made earrings before.

We had a lovely day today of crafting and shopping and I can finally mark this off my list of things to do. I'm really happy with how they came out. I'm not as happy with the pictures but I'm not used to photographing jewelry so they will have to do. I also was trying to do them inside which is never good. I upgraded her earrings to sterling components and got her some really nice origami boxes at a paper store today to assuage my guilt at taking so long.


Productivity at an All time Low

So I've gotten absolutely nothing productive done since joining Facebook. But it has been really fascinating to reconnect with people from all the different eras of my life. It makes the world feel like a much smaller and friendlier place. Thanks to the poster who suggested putting a separate page for shop promotion. I haven't figured out how to do it yet but that is the next plan. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

I did have a chance to think about the results of my latest poll. I'm so glad that I did it since the results really made me rethink some things. Obviously the majority of you think I should be focusing more on the bags and pouches and not the jewelry. I have made 3 pouches and they were a lot of fun. I did a basic design and decorated them with sea shells and puca shells. Mike said they would be perfect for carrying your stash or hackey sack. I think his point was that they were a bit sixties inspired which is fine by me. I will be working on some other designs and will try my hand at some bags with straps as well. I am still going to do some hemp jewelry but I'm not going to focus on it as much as I was planning. And of course I will also be doing headbands which I love to make. They are quick and use up the scraps that I have left from other things. Skinny scarves will be my bigger ticket items and so I will make up a bunch of them in different lacey patterns and such. It's weird to be planning my spring inventory now while we are in the coldest weather of the year but I guess it's how you have to operate. Thanks to all who voted! Above is a long skinny scarf/belt still available from last year. It is in the shop now if you click on the picture it will take you to the listing.

What should be the focus of my Spring Lenox Knits line?


Facebook Finally

I finally got with the 21st Century and joined Facebook last night. I'm starting to gather my posse and get some friends. It's funny since even the ladies at work are joining. It's obviously going to become passe very soon if my generation and older are now in on it. The kids will have to create something new very soon.

Here is my link. Nothing fancy but I have added some stuff to my profile and a few pics. I like it a lot better than Myspace. I had a page there but I just couldn't get into it. There were a lot of annoying bells and whistles that offending my delicate sensibilities. I like the streamlined and clean look of Facebook. There aren't all the crazy things jumping out at you whenever you enter someone's page.

I haven't figured out if I want to use it as a promotional tool somehow or just leave it as a personal diversion. I obviously wouldn't spam all my friends constantly with updates to my shop since that is just tacky, but there has to be some way to use it tastefully to promote. I have a link to my blog and etsy shop in my profile and I mentioned my shop there as well. I also included pics of my craft show displays. I don't want to put up a bunch of random pictures of inventory like I have on my flickr page but I'm thinking I may list some of my favorites and ones with Ani modeling. Since I have no kids my scarves are almost like my babies as sad as that sounds. I'm proud of my work and I want to share but I also don't want to look pathetic if that is not what people want to see on Facebook. I'm sure I'll figure out the lay of the land soon. I saw that Etsy had a page there so I'm sure that others have figured out a way to make it work for them. If you have a facebook account please share your thoughts on whether you use it for promotion or just for fun.


Art or Craft

It seems most of the markets that I want to be a part of on 1000 Markets are not currently accepting applications from knitters. I was getting bummed about it the other night when I thought if they won't let me into their little club then I'll just have to start my own. There is not a market yet for fiber artists while the fine art, glass, and jewelry folks all have their own home. So I started thinking about what I could call it that would encompass all the fiber folks including knitters, crocheters, weavers, felters, needlepointers, and quilters.

I thought about the Fabulous Fiber Arts but I generally don't think of my self as an artist. I know there is a whole debate between the terms art and craft and the difference between them. I found this quote on Mary Rayme's blog and I think it sums up my thoughts better than I could:

"Art is a work that transcends it's humble materials to create an original statement or expression in a meaningful and enduring way. Crafts CAN transcend their humble materials as well to become art but it takes an experienced and determined crafter to do this."

When I am cranking out a scarf in a couple of hours I really don't think that I'm creating something enduring and meaningful but when I really take the time to choose my yarns and put them together in a new and interesting way I think that it can become art in a way. Does that make me sound like a pretentious twit, I don't know.

Honestly, I really don't think it matters whether we call ourselves artists or crafters as long as we respect our materials and take pride in our finished work. Part of that pride should be reflected in the price we set for our products. I consider myself in the mid-range of knitters on Etsy. There are some people that can command as much as $100 for a scarf that is truly an amazing work of art. And then there are others that have so little respect for their work that they barely charge enough to cover the cost of materials.

I don't know how I would put it but if I do decide to start a market for fiber folks, I want to only have people that regard their work as special and unique. I plan on putting my higher end work in my 1000 market shop this year so I hope that I can come up with some work that reflects what I'm trying to say.

I made some scarves this year that I called Art Scarves that I named after the artist that I felt "inspired" it. I combined many different yarns of different colors and textures in these pieces. The one above is available in my Etsy shop and I named it after Gustaf Klimt since the color combination really came from his Kiss painting that we have a print of in our living room. The other one I named Waterlilies. It sold at the Mad Art Gallery show but I had this picture from the last photo shoot I did with Anh.


My little secret

I love this little pendant from Little Gals Studios. It is perfect for me I'm afraid. I've talked in the past about how I prefer chaotic environments. I get uncomfortable in perfectly organized settings and want to escape. I grew up with a highly unorganized family and 3 siblings. My housekeeping is less than outstanding and my husband isn't all that much better. He says I have this amazing ability to not see a mess right in front of me. Well, my husband finally convinced me that if I was going to live like we had a cleaning lady than we needed to actually have one.

We hired a company rather than an individual since Mike insisted he didn't want to have to get involved. I grew up with hired help constantly around the house, since my family obviously needed a lot of help. My father had hired men to help on the farm and my mother always had at least one helper around the house and they were generally just like another member of the family.

It would have been a lot cheaper for us to go with someone local that we knew but then if we needed to cancel for any reason it would have been more personal. They were here for the second time yesterday. It stresses me out to have to get ready for them so I accidentally "forgot" to get my work space around the couch de-cluttered last night. When I got home there was a huge yarn monster sitting on the couch waiting for me. I had started to unwind a particularly large and uncooperative skein and it got out of control. I put the tangled mess on the other side of the couch and it joined forces with other spare balls and scraps of yarn to create a massive yarn creature. I'm sure the woman must have thought I was crazy. Of course, they never throw anything away for you but I'm sure she had no idea what to do with it so it ended up on my couch. I'm starting to be glad that we went with a nameless company that we don't have to interact with since they see all of my shame.


Fun V-Day Gift Ideas

I know that Valentine's Day is a cheesy and made up holiday but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. Here are some amazing and fun handmade gift ideas from Etsy and 1000 Markets.

Instead of flowers that will die in a week, how about a fine art print that she can enjoy all year long. I love this Red Orange Hawaiian Wiliwili tree from 1000 Market's Arlene Salomon. It would look absolutely amazing in my living room. She has lots of images from Hawaii that are both stunning and unique.

This t-shirt is my gift to my darling husband this year. I traded with Pinuppixie for it awhile ago and have been dying to give it to him ever since. I think it is more than appropriate for our relationship and I'm sure we're not alone. She has lots of other kitschy and fun items that would make great gifts for guys or girls.

There are lots of yummy looking treats from food crafter's on 1000 Markets. This lil' bucket of love from asugaraffair can be filled with anything from Chocolate Covered Oreos to Chocolate Chip and Butter Cream Sandwiches.

If you are looking for the traditional gift of jewelry how about something really different like this anatomical tattoo heart necklace from wickedminky. I personally would love it even more than a traditional heart shaped pendant.

If you are looking for something really memorable and personal this original papercut of the two of you by papercutsbyjoe would be perfect. He can also incorporate your names, dates, and anything else you want him to say. I think they would also make a great wedding gift.

Etsy has some great alternatives to the hallmark generic aisle for all your valentine card needs. I love this Obama themed card from time2cre8. And for something really different GingerDead has this great goth card to let him know how your really feel about him!


Pat on my Back

So I haven't had a sale in awhile and I was hoping this would be a busy time for me on-line. Since I haven't been spending any time on the Etsy forums lately I haven't even been getting many looks or hearts so I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself. One of my favorite things to do when I'm feeling this way is to go back and look at my old feedback. Please indulge me for a few moments while a record a few of my favorites here for my own confidence boost.

I absolutely love this scarf! It was going to be a gift, but I just can't give it up.....all mine! Thanks so much!

I love this..it's so original and funky design too...thanks so much Paige.

Thank you so much. You'd have to see and touch this scarf to really know how wonderfully made it is. Thank you again.

Oh, this is a wonderful and striking wrist cuff. So colorful and so well made. Couldn't be happier!

Thank you for the wonderful wrist cuff, I love it, it's really cute. Great transaction, many thanks again!!

This is the cutest little girl scarf ever! I have a neice who is all about fashion and this is going to be a gift for her. She is going to love it!!! Beautiful!!!!

Yes, fall in love is the name for this georgous scarf. I'm in love and the weather will be getting chilly here soon...so thank you very much!

I've been using the Gypsy Rose Scarf almost daily since I received it. I love it. Thank you.

Lovely work! Colors are perfect and true to picture. My kids keep "borrowing" it for themselves. :D

i received the scarf quite quickly and it is warm, cozy and absolutely BEAUTIFUL! i love it, and have been wearing it every day!

It's pathetic I know but it's important to stay positive and for me this is one of the best ways I know. The scarf above is the first scarf I ever sold to anyone on-line. I had under priced it pretty badly so it actually sold almost immediately. It gave me a good boost though and I learned pretty quickly to value my work more. Please share your techniques for getting through a dry spell in sales if you have ever been in one. I'm sure I'm not the only one who could use them.


1000 Markets: I'm In!!

So I waited anxiously all day yesterday to see if I was approved for 1000 Markets and I finally found out that I was in. Please check out my shop here. Now I just have to figure out how to get some attention. Every site has its own system to be learned.

First let me explain the process to get in. I had to do the regular registration thing and confirming my e-mail. Then you have to download all the pictures you want to use. You can be downloading multiple pics at the same time which is nice. They all go into the same place and then you choose which pic you want to use for each listing or for your banner, etc. Setting up a listing was a piece of cake compared to Etsy. It's all on one page, you can choose from a list of tags that are commonly used and the pics are all right there, super easy. You can then save it as a draft or make it active.

You have to set up your shop policies and a short profile. Be sure that you don't just cut and paste from your Etsy shop because there are a lot of differences between the 2 venues. For one 1000 Markets just uses Amazon Checkout so any reference to Paypal needs to be removed. And they don't even notify you of a sale until the buyer has gone through the checkout and the money is in your account so you don't have to say anything about non-payment. They insist that you have a written return policy so be sure you give some thought to that. I used my standard you have 7 days if it is in unworn, unwashed condition and buyer pays shipping both ways.

The biggest pain actually was setting up my Amazon business account, which had nothing to do with my market shop. Amazon is very particular about your answers and I spent 30 minutes trying to get everything correct before I finally went to the FAQ's to see what the heck I was doing wrong.

I ended up not using my banner or avatar from Etsy. For one thing they are sized wrong and they would have come out totally pixaled and I'm going to be using different inventory for the Market shop so I figured I'd just use a product shot for now. I like how the cashmere blend scarflette shot above came out so I used it for the banner. They let you put text over the top of the pic and then they size it for you. I will probably play with it as I get more comfortable with the setup.

Once you have everything looking the way you want it to you just submit your shop for review. They say it takes less than 48 hours to hear from them. It took me around 2 hours, not counting the Amazon annoyance to get it all set up. And I heard back from them about being approved to go live with my shop within a day. Pretty smooth process in my opinion.

From what I can gather you get noticed by joining different markets. There are markets for sellers from a certain region, or type of product, or there are ones for like minded people. The one I'm most drawn to initially is the Bohemia Espirit which says it's A Place for the artistic...bohemian soul... Sounds like home to me!

And I think I will either apply for Wear It Out, which is Clothing & Accessories for the Modern World, or Art You Can Wear. You have to apply and be approved to each individual market by the curator of that market. But then you are on that market's home page which appears to be how most people shop on the site. I haven't figured out how the search function operates yet. I don't think that it is based solely on listing date like Etsy but I'm not sure what it uses.

They also have their own blog system. I'm debating on how I want to use it. I don't know if I will just cut and paste from here or do separate postings specifically for that site. That sounds like too much work but since it is right there on your shop page I want it to be appropriate to the site.

Someone asked me about the wall on my shop page. This is a place where anyone can leave a comment on your shop. At this time they seem to have no feedback system in place. I'm feeling a bit unloved so if you would like to leave me a note it would make my day!

I'll let you know how it goes in my new home! So far I really like feeling like I'm a part of something new and exciting.


Spring Knitting

I know that we are in the dead of winter but my mind is turning to the Spring and what I want to do about Spring inventory. I got an e-mail about a craft mafia show in March called Green with Indie. My first thought was no way, I'm not doing any Spring shows. Then I read about it and it actually sounds really cool. It is going to be at Webster University and the focus will be on using sustainable supplies and green crafting. The booth fee is reasonable and it will give me something to work towards and look forward to through Jan. and Feb. I tend to go into a pretty deep funk this time of year and it's crucial for me to have things that I'm looking forward to and excited about. So I think I'm going to apply and see what happens. It's juried and they are very concerned about what materials you'll be using. I've got some bamboo and hemp yarn that I can make some skinny scarves/belts with. I'm also thinking about using hemp cord to knit some jewelry with different fun beads. I've done headbands and barrettes in the past and I think they would go over better at Spring shows than in the Fall.

I'm starting a new poll about what I should focus on for the Spring. Please take a second to let me know what you think will be my biggest Spring seller. If you have other suggestions for Spring merchandise please let me know.

The results of my fringe poll clarified a few things for me. I now know that most people don't give much thought to fringe on a regular basis, imagine that. And the others are pretty evenly split between liking fringe and not liking it. So I'm going to continue to mix it up and continue to add options for everyone. Thanks to all who replied!


1000 Markets vs. Artfire

I hope that my last post didn't come off as bitter. I really do love Etsy but I'm not what they call a cheerleader any more. I have what I think are legitimate concerns and I just wanted to get them off my chest. So, I've been investigating the different venues for selling on-line since November when I blogged about all the other sites here. At that time I was leaning towards starting another shop on Dewanda, which is an international site out of Germany. I did some shopping and made a purchase from a seller there. I found the whole check out process very cumbersome and having to convert everything in my mind from Euros was also very distracting. I know you can't judge a site by one transaction but I found the whole process annoying and so I've decided it's just not for me.

So that lead me to the other two venues that I was attracted to, 1000 Markets & the new comer of the bunch Artfire. There is so much buzz right now about Artfire and their incentive to sign up is intriguing. For the first 5,000 sellers that sign up they are offering a $7 a month package for life. No listing or processing fees, just $7 a month as long as you stay active. After doing some shopping and buying some supplies I realized I might as well be on Etsy. The experience was really exactly the same for me. It is a very similar set-up and you can tell that the creators were very much inspired by Etsy and were in many ways just trying to be an option for those who are wanting to get away from etsy for one reason or another. I just don't see how putting the time and money into Artfire really makes sense right now for me. There are about 6 months out of the year where I get very few sales and continuing to pay the $7 a month would be a pain for me just to get exposure to much the same audience I'm already reaching at my etsy shop. I can see how it is appealing to so many others but I am speaking just for myself here.

I have to say that I really like the look of 1000 Markets. It has a very upscale boutique feel to it. I also like the fact that they are juried which keeps the resellers out. They also only sell handmade items, not supplies or vintage. I like that Etsy includes these sellers but I kind of like the exclusivity of 1000 Markets. It's like walking into a funky gift show in Clayton, and the prices are reflective of this. They do tend to have higher price lines which would allow me to get some of my more expensive pieces a real show place. I also like that it is free to set up shop here, they charge 5.5% plus a .50 fee when an item sells. Another reason to stick to more expensive items. I really think that 1000 markets has the potential to open me up to a different market so to speak. I went ahead and "opened shop". It is remarkably easy to set up listings compared to Etsy. The entire process is all on one page and is very smooth. I will put up a link once I have it all figured out. As I said it is juried, so I will then have to go through the process of getting accepted. I will use the best of last weeks pictures and see how it goes.

If I don't get in then I will give Artfire another go but as of right now I'm hopeful that 1000 Markets will be the next phase of Lenox Knits for the new year.


Etsy observations

I'm a very active shopper on Etsy as my feedback makes all too clear for the world to see. I really believe in living the Handmade Pledge and supporting my fellow crafters as much as I possibly can, and Etsy is the easiest way to do this at this time. But one particularly annoying feature of Etsy is the complete lack of privacy. At least they finally took the prices away from the sold items last year so people now can't really look into your spending habits. At one time you could actually calculate exactly how much someone not only spent on Etsy each year but also how much they made. For sellers who actually make a living there that was a real invasion of privacy.

My other big quibble with Etsy is the favoritism issue. There are more forum threads then you could read in weeks about this issue. Etsy will continue to deny it but it's so obviously there. I'm sure that if I was one of the "chosen ones" it wouldn't bother me so much but I know that I will never be in that position. For one thing I live in the wrong part of the country. They have a very east coast bias, and if you live in Brooklyn you are golden. I once read a thread started by a knitter from the east who was complaining that she was only in 2 of the gift guides when before she had been in many more. Her whining was bad enough but then someone pointed out to her that she was actually in 6 GG's at that moment. I don't know about you but I was thrilled the 2 times I was in them and to be in 2 at the same time I would be totally doing the happy dance, not going into the forums and complaining.

Yes her pictures were very good but were they so good to be on just about every category of the well traveled GG's, absolutely not. She had something that many of us just will never have, that Etsy look. There is a very real hipster vibe that you find in all of the favorites of the Admin that for me is hard to describe but I know it when I see it. I understand that the Admin are in charge of setting the feel for the site but it doesn't make it any easier for the rest of us who are just trying to get a little crumb of attention for our shops. There is so much talent on etsy that the love really should be spread around.

It's not just the Gift guides either. There are some that say the front pages should be chosen randomly, which I really don't agree with. It is the first thing new visitors see and you want a good first impression. But there are so many treasuries that feature people who aren't there every other day that could show case some fresh blood. There should be room for other trends besides whatever one the Brooklynites happen to be on at that moment. Does everyone have to fall in love with owls or deers all at the same time. Can we please see something different on the front page once in awhile.

The tone of Etsy has changed a lot in the past year also. I really don't go into the forums much now but they are definitely a different place then when I first started. There is much less interaction with the Admin, whom we used to know fairly well. Many of the old guard like Matt and Rob are now pretty much gone, not to mention everyones favorite Revolving Dork. When these guys started dropping off I knew things would be changing. It is now much more a business about making money, which I understand. I want etsy to be around for the long haul as much as a buyer as a seller. I know that I'm going to make the bulk of my money from craft shows, not etsy so it is actually more important to my life as shopper than a seller. So I want them to do whatever they have to in order to create a successful long term site. I just don't think alienating a lot of your core sellers and buyers is the way to do it.

I won't even go into the lack of site statistics and how annoying the lack of communication can be. The new site Artfire that every one is talking about was pretty much born out of the frustrations that many have with Etsy right now. I will be talking more about my decision to open another shop this week. No, I'm not leaving etsy just spreading my wings a bit more and seeing what else is out there.


Entrecard Regulars

I just wanted to give a shout out to all my regular entrecard droppers. I know I'll probably never make anyone's list since I just have a bunch of people that I randomly drop in on. I'm not as consistent on the weekends either but these guys have been my big droppers for December so thanks for stopping by and please check out their very cool and crafty blogs!

Dropper # of drops
Alteredevents 31
More Than Sew So 29
time2cre8 23
Unique You 23
Shopperista 22
Simply Shiny Artisan Handmade Jewelry 22
Laane on the World 22
Deronda 21
Three Fates Design - Beaded Jewelry 20
Fire and Glass-Sweetwater Designs 19


Accomplishments and Goals

So here we are in 2009. Let me take a few minutes to think about what I've accomplished with my little knitting enterprise this year.
  1. Had 3 successful craft shows that made at least 4 x's their booth fees.
  2. Sold or traded 73 items on Etsy.
  3. My pictures have drastically improved since getting the new camera and getting the table set up on the porch. (I'm really happy with how the above bracelet photographed today).
  4. Started making knitted jewelry including the wire bracelets that have been going over well.
  5. Got my first large custom order for bridal party jewelry.
  6. Had several other custom orders, one coming from my blog.
  7. Started and maintained this blog for promotion which turned into another fulfilling hobby.
  8. Made some great blogger friends and gotten more readers than I expected this quickly.
  9. Paid to have a logo designed and got a banner and business card design as well.
  10. Turned spare bedroom into craft room and set up computer for my business.
  11. Started a spread sheet of my inventory.
And now for the things I need to work on in the coming year:
  1. Get the craft room re-organized and the yarn stash under control.
  2. Re-itemize the spread sheet and keep it up to date.
  3. Get a new button/avatar to use for advertising.
  4. Look into advertising with Project Wonderful and other blogging outlets.
  5. Learn more about my camera and possibly take a digital photography course at the community college.
  6. Research craft and art shows in the area. Get at least 5 shows lined up for the Fall 2009.
  7. Continue expanding my line, look into more jewelry designs.
  8. Research different boutiques in the area and approach for wholesale/consignment possibilities.
  9. Open another on-line venue, possibly 1000 Markets or Artfire.
  10. Look into joining the Craft Mafia for networking and exposure.
  11. Promote, Promote, Promote. Get my shop out there however I can by blogging and talking about it.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. Here's to a new year filled with knitting, lots of sales, and hopefully a better economy soon.

About Me

Knitting is so much a part of my life and identity now that it is hard to believe that I have only been doing it for five years. When I meet someone new they think I must have been born with knitting needles and a ball of variegated yarn in my hands.

For me knitting was the final stage in discovering a creative outlet for myself. Around 7 years ago I was introduced to a most interesting and creative guy who would become my husband. I went from studying for my Master's in Counseling right into planning my marriage. After that I spent a year scouring home decorating magazines and searching flea markets and antique malls to fill our new nest with treasures.

After awhile I realized that I really needed something to do with my extra time. My husband is a man of many passions, including playing guitar in a band, writing science fiction, riding his bikes, and saving the world from Nazis and aliens on his computer games. So I went in search of something to do with my time and hands.

I tried cross stitch and crochet before picking up the needles. From almost the first moment it just felt right. There was something so rhythmic and meditative yet it still required me to actively focus at times. I could knit simple scarves while watching my favorite crime dramas or work on something more complicated while tuning the rest of the world out. And then I fell in love with the yarn. I absolutely love color and I could spend hours looking at the different combinations and transitions of color in the yarn. As lame as it sounds knitting with variegated yarn is endlessly fascinating to me as I wait to see whether blue or green will come up next in the pattern.

So now I have an entire room devoted to my craft and I bore my husband and friends with stories about stitch patterns and new techniques. I have been lucky enough to sell enough of my creations at local craft shows and on-line to pay for my love of yarn and a little extra. My husband and I both now have self-supporting hobbies that keep us fulfilled and centered. I'd say we are very lucky indeed.

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD