So Thankful

I just wanted to take a few minutes to thank my peeps for continuing to drop in on me in the month of February. I have been working hard to return the favor as much as possible. The fun spring thank you cards are from bdoodlez on etsy. She has some great card sets that will come in handy all year long.

Dropper # of drops
Guilty Pleasures 30
Youniquely Chic 30
A Rose By Name 30
More Than Sew So 30
My gypsygoods 30
Alteredevents 30
The Ad Master 29
Unique You 29
Computer Aid 28
Dogmaw Glass 28
I am so thankful to have developed some great blogger friendships which is the theme of the sweet award that P and J Crafts has sent my way. She is a local blogger and crafter that makes the most unique rag quilt purses like this butterflies and flowers one, which would be perfect for spring.

This is what the "Let's Be Friends" Award represents:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I'm sure some of this bloggers will be nominated more than once since they so perfectly represent the awards meaning. Here are the friends I'd like to award, it was very hard to keep it to 8:

  1. My Art and the Mom in Me
  2. nfall2rt designstudio
  3. Be Jeweled By Candi
  4. TILT Creations
  5. Custom blog Designs
  6. Split Rock Ranch
  7. Bonhomie Jewelry
  8. Feel Chic Ramblings


Things That Made Me Smile

We've been having construction going on in our offices this week so there has been constant drilling, banging, and dust in the air, which is really great for my allergies. So I decided to talk about the things that have made me smile this week to take my mind off what has made me feel like poking my eyes out.

I am coming close to 100 comments in my contest. I know there is actually more entries than that once it comes time to print them up. I want to talk about all the features in the different blogs who have promoted my contest. Here is a list of the sites that I know of at this point:

1. Feel Chic Boutique, seen above, is the one that gave me the biggest smile. She bought one of the custom headbands I blogged about a few weeks ago here. She posted a few lovely pictures of herself modeling her earwarmer and showing how warm and comfy it looks on her.

2.Char's Craft Room entered early and completed all 5 steps in the contest, giving her 9 entries. She has a new etsy shop called stitchary with some amazing pillows in the Arts and Craft style like this one, which would look perfect in my living room.

3. The Lucky Ladybug has a great blog for giveaway junkies. She posts just about every kind of contest you can imagine.

4. Valerie posted on not one but 2 of her blogs about the contest. This is a woman who knows her contests! She has Sweeps4Bloggers and Sweeps4California.

5. Sherry has a great blog called iLUVcontest and I actually advertised on her entrecard widget this week to promote the contest.

6. Joy to the blog has a vintage and crafty blog that is really easy on the eyes. She added me to her list of giveaways and I have a feeling she may become a favorite read of mine.

7. Sweepstakes Advantage dropped in to tell me the contest had been added to their very comprehensive list.

8. I submitted the contest to Etsy Giveaways and it was quickly added. This a great resource for looking for handmade items up for grabs.

9. I was also on the list of hot links at An Island Review.

I think that is all of them! I'm very happy for all of the blog love. I currently have 15 signed up for the newsletter and another 7 pending e-mail confirmation by the subscriber. This a great start for my subscriber list.

Another thing that made me smile this week was a new ring. I buy lots of pendants and necklaces but I very rarely buy myself a new ring. I just couldn't pass up this hammered copper and sterling silver spinner ring from Bonhomie Jewelry. I thought I had conquered my nail biting habit but it has been creeping back the last year. I had a spinner ring before and it was a good tool for distracting me from biting my nails. I was happy to be her first sale on 1000 Markets. She has a great blog were she talks about her adventures in jewelry making and is a great promoter of buying handmade.


Where in the World Are You?

I have to be honest. I actually considered limiting the contest to just U.S. and Canada in order to keep the cost of shipping down. But then I thought about all the great blogs that I visit every day from all around the world and the bloggers that drop in here as well. So I opened it up to everyone and I'm glad I did. It also inspired me to finally get my worldwide shipping set up in the shop. I had originally just shipped to U.S., Canada, and a few other countries I had checked out the rates on at the post office.

I have shipped to Canada a number of times now and have found it to be not much more than shipping here. I've unfortunately never had an overseas sale, and I'm hoping the changes in my shipping on Etsy will change that. I now have U.S. and Canada listed separately and then Everywhere Else set. This way people do not have to stop and contact me to find out what the shipping rates to their country would be. I am the queen of impulse purchases so I know that extra step probably killed a number of international buyer's shopping experience in my shop.

My Google Analytics statistics say that I've had visitors from 53 countries in the last 30 days. My top ten are here:

1. 4,693

2. 423

3. 328

4. 277

5. 153

6. 105

7. 103

8. 96

9. 59

10. 46

The only one that really surprises me is the Netherlands. I'm not really aware of any regular visitors from there. The Philippines being my number 2 is certainly no surprise. There are an amazing number of Filipinos that are a part of the Entrecard community. I've gotten to know many of them through my daily drops like Lainy from Lainy's Musing. She has not one but 4 blogs that she updates regularly with original and interesting content. My favorite of her work is in The Certified Fashionable Chic where she discusses fashion from around the world.

I would love to hear from some of my global buddies. How did you come across my blog and have you entered the contest yet? I know that it may not be winter where you are so you may not need to lose the winter blues but I'm sure that everyone could use a freebie to lift their spirits.


Why Hemp?

For those of you who have checked out the contest you may have noticed that the prize set was made with an unusual fiber. First I thought I would explain what hemp is and then talk about why I love it so much that I chose to use it for this contest. I like how the picture above really shows off the vibrancy of the color and how well hemp shows the stitch definition.

Hemp is a natural fiber made from the same plant as Marijuana but it comes from the stalk not the flowering plant were they harvest the "mary jane". Although it is illegal to grow hemp in the U.S. since it falsely gets lumped in with the drug, it has been used for centuries as a fiber in everything from clothing, paper, rope, and even fuel. The Declaration of Independence was actually drafted on hemp paper. The first American flag made by Betsy Ross's own hands was 100% hemp and survives to this day. There is a website devoted to getting the word out about what an amazing sustainable crop hemp could be for this country called Vote Hemp. We are starting to find it at a lot of natural food stores and can find all kinds of sources on line in all of its many forms.

I adore working with natural fibers. I'm all about wool and alpaca for cool weather knitting, but I've just never been a fan of cotton or linen. So I was resigned to man made fibers for my spring and summer knitting since silk is mostly out of my price range. There are some amazing rayons and acrylics out there now but they just don't speak to me like the natural fibers do. Recently there has been a great revival of the alternate fibers like hemp, bamboo, corn and I've even seen milk yarns.

My favorite of these is probably bamboo but hemp is a very close second. I like the sheen and how bamboo takes color a bit more but hemp has a great feel to it. It is a lot like linen but I think it is much easier to work with than linen. Linen gets more pliable with washing but knitting with it can be hard on the hands. I don't have that problem at all with hemp. It is even more durable and breaths better than cotton or linen. They will mix it in with other fibers a lot of times to get the best from each of the parts. The yarn in the contest prize has some cotton mixed in it.

You can find a lot more about knitting with these alternate fibers in a fun book called No Sheep for You byAmy R. Singer . The book gives a lot of tips on how to approach these different fibers and teaches knitters a lot about the characteristics and special handling for each of the fibers.

If you haven't checked out the contest you can still enter until March 7 in the post right below.


Lose The Winter Blues with Lenox Knits Giveaway!

I'm excited to be having my very first blog contest. I am giving away the year round set of knitted accessories worth $50 in the above picture. It includes the following:

1. A lace knitted scarf in a blue hemp/cotton blend yarn with clay beads, worth $18.
2. A knitted pouch in the blue hemp/cotton yarn with the same beads. It has a draw string closing with a long paper bead, worth $12.
3. A matching headband in lace, worth, $7.
4. A knitted wire wrist cuff with matching clay beads and some fun paper mache beads in matching colors, worth $11.

There will be one contest winner and there is free worldwide shipping! Contest closes on March 7, 2009.

Contest Rules:

1. For one easy entry just visit my Etsy shop, Lenox Knits, and tell me what your favorite item is.
2. For another easy entry follow me on Twitter and Tweet to all your followers about the Beating the Blues Contest.
3. Because it involves more effort on your part I will give you 2 entries for blogging about this Contest.
4. If you add my lovely new blog widget to your blog or myspace page, there is code for each, you will get an additional 2 entries.
5. And finally I would be thrilled if you signed up for my new newsletter and will give 3 entries for following through with the steps to submit your e-mail address. I promise not to spam you and you can unsubscribe any time. I will be e-mailing specials and deals seasonally.

Please leave a comment on this post for each step you complete. There are a total of 9 possible entries per person. I will print each eligible entry and put them in a basket, most likely wicker, and have my niece draw a name on March 7th in a secure location, probably my living room. The contest is open to everyone, even non-bloggers. If you don't have an active blog please leave me an e-mail address to contact you. If you have a blog you will be contacted directly through your blog.


Sneak Peek

For anyone who happens to check in this weekend I just wanted to give you a sneak peek to what I'm working on this weekend. I don't know if anyone besides my husband has noticed that I've been particularly crabby lately. Notice the flower above, it was part of a valiant effort to cheer me up this week. It's the middle of winter blues that always hit me right about now. I got so excited last week when I came across SolSisters Studio's blog giveaway. I decided I needed another little pick me up so I have something planned of my own that will be fully revealed on Monday. I hope you will check it out.

I have also signed up with Bravenet.com to set up a newsletter. They also have a lot of other free services for bloggers that I have yet to fully explore. If you are interested in getting some specials and updates delivered to your in box from me please feel free to sign up. I tried it out with a different e-mail account and the sign up process is very painless. I promise not to spam you and it will most likely be a seasonal newsletter. I hope everyone has a good weekend!


Scarflettes Anyone?

I just can't stop making scarflettes. They are like the meat loaf of knitting for me right now. In other words my comfort food, and trust me I know a thing or two about comfort food.

I know that Spring is right around the corner, but summer is right around that corner, and then guess what Fall will be right behind and scarflette season will be here again. So I have been knitting up scarflette after scarflette in a bit of an OCD way. I find them soothing to make and I love finding the perfect button to finish them off. I love how the handmade ceramic button from Muddy Muse so perfectly compliments the Shades of Clay Scarflette above. This cashmere/merino wool blend yarn was on extreme discount (it was originally priced $50 for a little skein, to let you in on how luxurious it is) or I would never have been able to afford it. There is a wrist cuff to match in the shop right now too.

I also adore the black and red Pop Art Scarflette. I found the cartoon buttons from Global Pop on Etsy. It is a super soft chenille done in a cool brick pattern.

And finally the fun Diva Delight Scarf, is a great starter scarflette if you aren't sure you can pull it off. It started out as a scarf and when I ran out of the fringy yarn it became a long scarflette. I put a big wooden button on it that can be inserted anywhere through the open stitch. It is cheaper than most of my scarflettes at $18 . I usually use my good stuff on the scarflettes, since I need less to make one and people generally want something nice wrapped that closely to their neck. Next year I'll be including some more like the Diva Delight so that everyone can try a scarflette if they want too.

My husband never really got the idea of the scarflette until he came to one of my craft shows. He saw some of my customers trying them on, including some cute young girls. Now he says that he likes them. I think they can work for anyone. My Uncle Jack has been gifting them to the ladies at the funeral home he works for and I have had several return buyers from these not so young girls. It takes a more creative sense of style but I think once you go scarflette you'll never go back.


Define Your Life Through MEME

I was recently tagged by fellow crafty blogger extraordinaire, Soy Wax Candles.
The Rules for the MEME are:

1. Put your Music Player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Tag your friends

I know that I'm risking great digital embarrassment but I do not have a Shuffle. I thought it would be inaccurate if I used my husbands so I decided not to play along. Yesterday I got a different music themed meme on facebook from Jen, a good friend in real life who blogs under Frugal Vegcafe. It was actually a lot of fun so I thought I would share it here.

Using only song titles from one artist, try to cleverly answer these questions, tag whoever might enjoy it, and pass it on:

Pick a Band/Artist: I choose Tori Amos, one of my all time favorites. I cannot tell you how many times I've listened to Little Earthquakes in the dark, while in the midst of some emotional upheaval or another.

1. Are you a male or a female: "Cornflake Girl"

2. Describe yourself: "Strange Little Girl"

3. How do you feel about yourself: "Silent All These Years"

4. Describe your boyfriend/girlfriend: " Heart Of Gold"

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: "A Sorta Fairytale"

6. Describe your current location: "Here. In My Head"

7. Describe where you want to be:" Little Amsterdam"

8. Your best friend is: "Crazy"

9. Your favorite color is: "Agent Orange"

10. You know that it is: "Pretty Good Year"

11. What’s the weather like: "Winter"

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called? "Pandora's Aquarium"

13. What is life to you: "Another Girl's Paradise"

14. What is the best advice you have to give: "Enjoy The Silence"

15. If you could change your name what would you change it to: "Yes, Anastasia"

I am not going to tag anyone but I encourage you to play along. It is actually pretty fun. The other one looks interesting too so feel free to play along with that one if you like. You can find the questions on Soy's blog here. I've seen it spreading quite a bit lately.

It really is fascinating to see how many of this meme's are going viral right now. I read an interesting article on Slate the other day about the 25 Random Things phenomenon on Facebook. It is very similar to the 7 Random things tag that was going around last year on the blogs. Since joining facebook I've gotten lots of tags, some I've done and some I've ignored. There is only so much navel gazing I can indulge in before feeling self conscious. I think it says something about our culture that we really need this self analysis and connections with others right now. It may be a superficial connection but when someone participates it helps strengthen the bonds and makes you feel closer to them if only for a few minutes. I'm guessing that is something we all need more of, especially in our generation of spread out relationships.


Why Live Handmade

I have found many lists for why people choose to buy handmade and most of them have the same general ideas. The following are a few quotes from the Buy Handmade Pledge website:

"Buying Handmade makes for better gift-giving.The giver of a handmade gift has avoided the parking lots and long lines of the big chain stores in favor of something more meaningful. If the giver has purchased the gift, s/he feels the satisfaction of supporting an artist or crafter directly. The recipient of the handmade gift receives something that is one-of-a-kind, and made with care and attention that can
be seen and touched. It is the result of skill and craftsmanship that is absent in the world of large-scale manufacturing.

Buying handmade is better for people. The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. We are encouraged to be consumers, not producers, of our own culture. Our ties to the local and human sources of our goods have been lost. Buying handmade helps us reconnect.

Buying handmade is better for the environment. The accumulating environmental effects of mass production are a major cause of global warming and the poisoning of our air, water and soil. Every item you make or purchase from a small-scale independent artist or crafter strikes a small blow to the forces of mass production."

For me it really is a lifestyle. I can't say that I'm perfect. This weekend I had my 4 year old nephew's b-day sneak up on me and I didn't have time to find a handmade gift so he ended up with store bought plastic. But for the holidays my gift gifting was at least 75% handmade. In my daily life I work hard to incorporate handmade as much as possible. I'll be doing a series of posts the next few weeks on how well I have applied living handmade to the different aspects of my life. Some parts of my consumptive live are easier to support handmade than others but it is something I actively think about now.

For me the most important reason to live a handmade lifestyle is to support other's passions. I know that my buyers could easily find a $10 scarf at Wal-mart but instead they have chosen a handmade creation from my heart and energy. By doing so they are supporting my efforts and helping me to support my hobby. I am happy to support other sellers whether they are a hobbyist or professional because I know that they are doing it because they love what they are doing. I want to help them to keep the passion for art and craft alive in this world. There is so much mass produced crap that I love to feel like I'm buying something that was specially designed and brought into creation by someones hands. There is a connection that comes from knowing the name of the seller and possibly more if I have access to their blog. I have a tendency to isolate myself but this handmade lifestyle has opened me to up a whole world of fellow artisans that are keeping the dream alive.

The little copper tag above from Windshine is a great way to tell the world that you support handmade. You can attach it to a gift or use it as a keychain.


Custom Blog Designs and giveaways

I got a nice surprise last week when Diana from Custom Blog Designs told me I was her Visitor of the Week. That meant I got a free graphic from her of my choice. I asked her to make me a blinking ad box. I had just recently had some work done by NewShop that I was happy with but I hadn't thought I would need a blinking ad. I decided after seeing them on my site that they really were more eye-catching than the standard ones, so I was wanting one. She took the ad I had already and added other images to it to make it blink. I am thrilled with how it came out. For some reason it won't let me post the blinking ad on here but you can see it on the margin of her site, under visitor of the week, and I'll be using it in some Project Wonderful ads this week.

I am in awe of graphic designers. I am truly clueless to how it all works. She has some great prices on her blog designs including a basic blog makeover for $45. You really can't beat that. This week is her 1 year shop birthday so it is the perfect time to pay her a visit since she is having a giveaway and other promotions going on all week long.

Solsisters Studio is also having a great giveaway this week. She is giving away a $40 custom handbag like the one shown here or any other design of your choice. To enter you just have to sign up for her new newsletter. I have totally coveted her gorgeous designs and bright fabrics she uses for awhile so I would be thrilled to win!


The Bloolights

I thought I would post a few pictures today of my Valentine doing what he loves to do most. He and some friends have a blues band called the Bloolights and they play some local shows at bars and he and Chris the lead singer/guitar player do some acoustic shows at a wine bar in O'Fallon. Last night they played a low key gig down on main street at R.T. Weilers. It was a nice venue although the stage was pretty tight and there wasn't the best sound they've ever had. We're hoping they can do a few shows there a year in the future. Mike is the lead guitarist in the black shirt. His twin brother Mark is on the drums. Another friend Keith helps out on guitar so that Chris can play Bass when they need him too. I took a bunch of pictures but most of them are total crap.

Mike is a very patient and good huband and as he says we are exactly what the other deserves. You have to find someone whose quirks match up nicely with your own and I think we found our match in each other. We're very lucky that we both have passions in our lives that keep us inspired.


Creative Slump

I've been in a true dry spell of creativity for the past few months. Ever since I finished up my craft shows for the season, which was in December, I just haven't had any mojo left. I had applied for the spring craft show, green with indie, hoping that it would inspire me and get my knitting needles moving. Unfortunately I didn't get in so I have the supplies I was planning on playing with and no fire to use them.

Don't get me wrong, I've still been knitting, but just with no real purpose or passion. I've been making some scarves for charity and some other mindless knitting. I know I'm not the first person to go through a creative bleak period and this time of year is always a bit bleak in general for me.

I have visions of some funky yet functional knitted jewelry but I've been having trouble getting into it. I was planning on devoting the next month to really knitting up the hemp and bamboo for the show but that seems futile now. I just don't know if there would be a market for it on-line. I have the supplies so I guess it doesn't hurt to try. I bought these fun Paper Mache Beads from one of my favorite crafty bloggers, My Art and the Mom in Me a month ago. I'm going to play with them this weekend with some colorful new hemp I got recently and see if I can get some inspiration going. I've got lots of other new beads that are desperately trying to get my attention but I've been too uninspired to hear them. Wish me luck for a productive and creative weekend on the horizon.

UPDATE: I was just reading some news on-line and came across this interesting article in Newsweek about how we process rejection. I think it is a great representation of how I'm feeling about my rejection from the "cool" craft show:
All American Reject: Whether it's a dating mishap or just being left out of an e-mail chain, why it's so hard to brush off even the slightest slight.


Project Wonderful?

I have now been advertising with Project Wonderful for a little over a week so I feel I can speak with some clarity about my experiences with it. First off let me explain what it is for those who don't know. This is the explanation on their homepage:

"Project Wonderful reinvents online advertising. We've made click fraud impossible. We give advertisers the power to choose what sites their ads appear on - and publishers the freedom to choose what ads show up on their sites. We don't have absurdly high minimum-payout levels. We've made the entire online advertising experience transparent, trustworthy, and fair - as well as more profitable, for everyone involved! It's why our slogan is "Everybody wins."

Basically the way it works is instead of paying per click like most adverting venues you make a minimum bid for how much you are willing to pay to have your ad on that site. If you are the highest bid at that time then your ad is up. If someone outbids you than you are off the site unless you raise your bid. You can pay as little as $0 if no one else is bidding or as much as that website can garner.

There are a lot of handmade and fashion blogs that are publishers, that is what they call sites you can advertise on. That is primarily what I was looking at but I did branch out into the art category some as well. I started out with $10 in my account. You can pay as much or as little as you choose and you can take it right out of your paypal account. I was looking for free sites to start with and found a few but I will say that the search methods are not my favorite feature on there. I had trouble finding exactly what I was looking for but sometimes that's a good thing because you find things you didn't know your were looking for.

My best ad was on a high volume fashion site and I received over 20 clicks in a day. I had many duds that received 0 clicks. I primarily picked them out by hand and set very conservative bids. If mine was not the highest bid at the time I was ok with that, and sometimes it would eventually get there. I would recommend setting it not to e-mail you with updates. I didn't do this at first and I was bombarded with every little update on when I was the highest bidder or when I had been outbid on every single site. That was more information than I needed or wanted to know.

At my peak last week I was running around 15 ads and paying an average of around .10 per ad. The most I paid was $1 a day for the fashion site I mentioned with a very high volume of readers. I started what they call a campaign as well. This is where you give them an amount you want to spend and some general categories and they manually set the bids for you and choose the sites. This was the biggest failure. I put a limit of $1 on each bid but forgot to set a limit for the day and when I went back to check on it 8 hours later I had already gone through $7 with very little pay off. I wasn't really thrilled with the sites it chose for me and it looked like many of them were either abandoned or hadn't been updated in awhile.

I will be sticking with it but I plan on doing all my own bidding, sticking to conservative bids and very targeted sites. I have found a few etsy related sites that have fairly low starting bids and will be reaching my target market of buyers already familiar with etsy. I will also be willing to pay more for some of the higher volume sites that will open me up to different markets. I will be setting some sort of advertising budget for each month that I will be working with. I will spend less in the summer, expect for maybe some Aussie sites where they might be looking for scarves, and will start to raise my budget as it gets closer to the Fall next year.

I'm also going to experiment with putting a few ads on my site. I like a clean looking blog and don't want to get it cluttered up with ads but I'm hoping I can get some ad money coming in to pay for my ads going out. We'll see how that works. I promise to keep them appropriate and hopefully thing you guys will like. Project Wonderful is nice enough to allow you to approve each ad that goes on your site. I'd love to hear other people's experiences with PW as an advertiser or publisher.

P.S. Thanks to all who expressed concern about my previous post. I'm feeling better today and I'm still sending positive energy to my brother and his girlfriend, who are dealing with the bulk of the major crisis. My mother is worrying way too much about it all which is not good for her and her heart so I'm hoping that everything gets resolved soon for everyone's sake.


Thinking Positive Thoughts

I've had a series of bad news come my way the last 5 days. There has been a lost job, a fire, health problems, and several other generally sucky things happen in my immediate family. I've given myself a back ache thinking about it all. It is all things I have absolutely no control over which makes me feel a bit helpless.

And yesterday I got rejected from the Spring craft show I had applied for, which is not even remotely on par with the other situations I described but it still bummed me out. This totally changes my knitting plans for the immediate future. I'm debating about whether I want to do much of any spring knitting now besides some skinny lightweight scarves. I will probably make some jewelry to list on Etsy but I'm not going to put much energy into it, since I sold next to nothing on-line after April last year.

So I'm posting some pictures of the scarf I named Happy Day in hopes some of it's positive energy will rub off.


Why waste another 20 Cents?

Since renewing on Etsy has essentially lost its impact for a number of reasons, it is up to the seller even more so now to drive traffic to our store. Even 6 months ago I could count on renewing an item to bring me at least 10-15 views. Now I'm lucky to get 3 or 4. I have decided that it just doesn't make financial sense to re-new any item that cost less than $20 and waste another 20 cents each time. One reason for this is the massive amounts of new sellers in just about every catagory. It is a lot harder to get views when you are competing against even more sellers for those buyers eyes. The other reason is a recent change in etsy procedure.

Here is a quote from everyone's favorite admin Matt about the change:

"One lever that we recently adjusted was the way that listings, new or renewed, are delivered to the site (see this post). This adjustment involved delivering items in very frequent batches rather than continuously in real time. As an outcomes of this change, there is less of chance that an individual item will appear in certain ways of discovering items on Etsy, including the Recently Listed Items section of the Homepage, the Fresh Items list on the Buy Page, as part of Pounce, or in Time Machine 1 or Time Machine 2."

What this means is renewing an item now only means that you are bringing your item closer to the top of search not necessarily the first page and you will quite possibly not even end up in the time machine or front page. There is an active forum thread that brings up many issues with this change here. Many top sellers have weighed in about how this has impacted their ability to make a living off of etsy sales, which is one of the professed goals of the site. This included thedreamygiraffe, one of my favorite artists of big eyed girls with powerful statements, like the mermaid above.

I understand that etsy is just a venue and that they are not guaranteeing us anything but 4 months of listing time for our 20 cents. So it is now up to us to get creative and come up with different ways of promoting. I know this is going to help drive sellers to Artfire and I am still waiting to see whether this is the way to go for me.

In the meantime I am exploring some advertising options like social networking venues and I also joined Project Wonderful last week. I'll be posting later this week with my results from this initial experience of advertising and my thoughts for future promotional efforts.


Romantic Getaway?

It looks like the big European vacation planned for this summer is off. My brother will most likely not be living in France much longer so the cost effectiveness of the trip has now evaporated. I feel terrible for my brother having to relocate once again and trying to find a job in this economy. I'm glad that we had not bought our tickets yet but it leaves me with a decision to be made.

This summer is our 5th wedding anniversary and I really want to go on a special vacation. Mike and I aren't travel people but we had a lovely honeymoon in New Orleans. We haven't gone on a real vacation since. We had a long weekend in Chicago and a family vacation with the in-laws to Pennsylvania, but I was highly looking forward to the big one this year.

I have the plan B choices down to 3 picks:

The one that we are leaning towards is spending a few nights in the bed and breakfast we stayed at in New Orleans, and re-visiting the city we love so much. I have been to New Orleans 4 times but not since Katrina. It would be romantic to go back to The Chimes and I love the food and people of the city so much. Then we would take a 5 night cruise with a few stops in Mexico. I went on a cruise when I was single and had a crazy good time.

Mike went to Northern California on his first honeymoon and has always wanted to go back with me. He said he was miserable the entire trip because he was realizing what a huge mistake he had just made, but he kept thinking how amazing the trip should have been. I have been to San Fransisco before to visit my oldest friend, Mel, but I haven't been to see her since she had her 2 children. It would be a great chance to catch up with her and we could stay at a resort along Big Sur, which Mike said was the most beautiful view he's ever seen.

The third choice would be New York, which I've never been to and Mike really doesn't want to go back too. We could visit his sister and family in upper New York and spend a few days in the city.

From what I hear now is a good time to be booking travel so I need to make up my mind quickly. Any input is appreciated since I am terribly indecisive. Mike has pretty much left it up to me but he prefers option 1.


Custom Headbands

So I finished my second cold weather custom order headband. I'm seriously thinking I have been missing a market here. Obviously there is a need for people to keep their ears warm and I should be getting some eye catching and ear warming headbands out there. It's a little late for this year I'm afraid, but it is definitely something I will be working on for next year.

I love how this one came out. It is a soft and fuzzy soy/wool blend yarn. It is variegated with stripes of pinks, purples, and tan. What I love is how the yarn stripes matched up perfectly. Any knitter who has ever worked with variegated stripes knows what a lucky break that is. I wish I could say I planned it but that would be a lie. Sometimes the yarn gods just smile on our efforts. I generally don't care about stripes matching up but I know knitters that drive themselves crazy trying to get colors to match up in different garments. Self striping sock yarn can be a source of great consternation for some knitters if they end up with fraternal rather than identical socks.

I've had people ask why I don't make hats. The honest answer is that I don't enjoy the process of making them. I really prefer flat knitting and hats are generally made in the round. I really am more of a process knitter and I sell my items mostly just to support my yarn buying habit. So for me if I don't like making something it isn't worth my time. I have some design ideas I've been thinking about for making hats without working in the round. I know that it is done so I'll be playing with that some for next year's craft show season. I also like the idea of a line of earwarmers like I've been doing for the ladies who have requested them. This one will be headed for Melissa of Feel Chic Boutique. She blogs and sells items to support those living with chronic illnesses. I hope she enjoys her new earwarmer headband and gets some good use of it still this season.


Free Blog Promotional Tips

One of my new favorite blogs is Be Jeweled By Candi. She makes gorgeous jewelry using really unique stones and beads, like the turquoise beauty above that she sells in her etsy shop. Her blog is a favorite because she is full of useful information on blogging and promotional tools that she explains in a user friendly and understandable way. She is also very generous with promoting other etsians and has etsy minis for many other shops displayed right next to her own. She posted the following list on her blog a few weeks ago and I actually printed it out and have been meaning to share it with you. It is a list of ways to promote your blog that are free. Some of them I'm doing, others I need to work on. Some of these will take some time but others are quick and relatively easy to implement.

25 Ways To Promote Your Blog For Free

  1. Use a lot of pictures
  2. Leave comments on other blogs. Make sure they are relevant and useful.
  3. Have an RSS Feed
  4. Submit to blog directories
  5. Add a bookmark link to every post
  6. Start a 2nd blog and link to yourself
  7. Join BlogCatalog and join communities
  8. Join MyBlogLog and join communities
  9. Use social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon
  10. Create follow-up posts to give the original post some added attention. Write a second post to extend the thoughts of the first post
  11. Submit your blog to web directories
  12. Make sure your blog is indexed on the main search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN
  13. Exchange links with blogs of similar interests
  14. Create an account with Technorati and submit your blog url
  15. Create a Google sitemap on your blog to help get it fully indexed
  16. Link out to other blogs in your posts and have a blogroll of your favorite blogs
  17. Submit articles to Ezines
  18. Create a lens at Squidoo
  19. Make sure your blog address is on your business cards
  20. Offer an email newsletter by adding a Feedburner subscription box
  21. If your blog hosting site offers a place to tag your posts - use them
  22. Make sure that your content is good. Be sure to use the spellcheck feature and try to use proper grammar
  23. Write your blog posts as if you are talking to a friend. Tap into your readers emotions
  24. Use Twitterfeed to tweet new blog posts via a RSS feed
  25. Sign up with Entrecard


BiPolar Awareness

I was just reading a very insightful blog called Being Bipolar and read about Bipolar Awareness month. I have dealt with major depressive episodes throughout my life and have been treating them with medication for most of my adult life with relative success. It is not something I talk about regularly but it is a fact of my life. I have a very dear friend that was diagnosed with Bipolar last year after years of turmoil and pain. Being with her when she was in a manic episode could be a lot of fun but I always sensed that they were not worth the lows that were inevitable.
She once told me that she felt like she was more herself when she was with me. That was one of the nicest compliments I've ever gotten. She is now on mood stabilizers and I hope so much that she can be happy and stable and keep her amazing spirit that I love.

The more we talk about mental illness the less stigma there will be. I read on the blog that as many as 50% of those diagnosed with bipolar attempt suicide and that 20% are eventually successful. I just wish that it didn't take so long for most people to get the treatment they need. If you think someone you love may be bipolar don't be afraid to talk about it. It is far too dangerous to hide from the subject. I remember that my friend asked me 6 or 7 years ago if I thought she was bipolar. I can't remember what I said but I remember thinking that it would explain a lot of things. I can't imagine how devastated I would have been if she had not finally gotten the help she needed.

Here are a few links to learn more about this illness:



100th Post and New Shop Designs

Let me start off by saying that this is my 100th post. I just like to acknowledge the milestones. I never thought I'd get into this blogging thing as much as I have but I'm excited and ready to go for another 100 this year. I think it is appropriate to be making some updates on my shop look now. Anyone that knows me knows that I hate change. I have been at my current job for over 4 years and to me it is still the "new job." My husband and I are definitely creatures of habit which is one of the things that makes us so compatible. But a few times a year I like to spice things up with my look and will get my hair highlighted or something along those lines.

I had a graphic designer make my banner and avatar for me last year and I was very happy with it. But I had gotten a wild hair that I wanted some change recently but couldn't track her down. She had changed her shop name and is now going by New Shop Design on Etsy. I didn't really want anything dramatic done to my banner since I was still happy with the look but I wanted a few new pictures added including one of my wire bracelets to be more reflective of my current work. I also wanted some new avatars as options. I had her add my shop name to the one I was currently using and make me one with a bracelet that I'll use in the warmer months. I had her make a new button that I can use on entrecard and project wonderful that is infinitely more clickable than the one before. I am loving how it came out and it will hopefully make my ad campaigns more successful. And she made me a twitter background that is a reflection of my shop and will tie my twitter page back to my overall look. I know consistency is important in building a presence on-line and I'm hoping this will help me to be more recognizable. I'm debating about what I'm going to do about my 1000 Markets shop and tying it in, but that's a whole other post.

Her prices are very reasonable and for the cost of a trim I feel like a brand new woman. It's great to know how to reach her again so I can have her make updates for me whenever I get the inspiration. She is so patient with me and my needs. I'm not good at describing what it is I want but I'm really good at telling her what I don't like, so she usually ends up having to make a number of revisions with no complaints I might add. If your looking for a new look you should totally check out her shop, she has a package that will give your all the tools you need to get started.

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD