I've had several great promotional opportunities come my way the past few weeks. I am this week's Featured Artist on the very cool handmade site St. Louis Handmade. I've always been impressed with the site and I'm very excited to now be a part of it. I love their tag line, "living the creative life under the Arch". I'm honored to be featured with so many other creative and artistic people.
I was also recently featured in a cool video presentation of fiber artists by Nana's Gift Nook. You can find the video here and a PDF file of it with links to all the featured artists here.
I'm off to a good start with my fall promotions without even spending a dime. I'll be looking for other opportunities to promote my knitting in the next month to spread the word as my favorite time of year approaches.
Ham has a genius intellect combined with the worst common sense in the history of the universe. He's a a scientist and a born salesman. He now sells chemicals to pharmaceutical companies and has traveled around the world with his work. He spends more time in airports than I do at the grocery store.
Ham and I are probably more alike than either of us would ever care to admit. This is why we drive each other as crazy as we do.
I remember my younger sister Karrie telling a story years ago. She was at Blockbuster in our hometown when the guy behind the counter asked if she was related to Paige Lenox. She said "yes, she's my sister." He asked if she was related to Ham Lenox, and she said "yes, he's my brother." The guy looked her up and down and said, "well, how did you turn out so normal?" I think that about sums it up.
I love buying shoes. There I said it. The problem is I don't really like wearing shoes . The first thing I do upon entering my house is to deposit my shoes by the door. I have 2 overflowing large baskets full of shoes when if I if I were to be perfectly honest I have only about 3 or4 pair in active rotation. I have my brown Birkenstock sandals, my black Birkis, and a new Betula silver sandal I got this year. The black pair of sandals I'm wearing I actually spotted in a picture from my wedding shower recently. They were brand new in the picture but that means I've been wearing them for 5 years. I bought a new pair of black sandals this year but after one day of painful walking and blisters they have remained in the basket ever since.
Just this weekend I bought 2 pair of new fall shoes at GoodWill. The black pair is used and obviously old but I love the leather detailing and the character in them. I just added to my shame by buying 2 pair of shoes on-line. The site called Simple Shoes sells only eco-friendly shoes made from all recycled materials. They are having an amazing sale on top of free shipping so it would have been a crime to pass it by. I got the pair at the top which I love but they are probably too young for me. But they were only $9.90 so if I wear them more than a few times I'm okay since that is the price of a nice lunch. I also got this cute Hemp shoe for the same price. They have sandals, a few pair of men's shoes, and some kids shoes also on sale.
I know my shoe buying compulsion is hereditary as my Mom and sisters all share my affliction. My mother told me she recently snuck two big bags of shoes out of the house to give to a charity when Dad was gone. She made me swear to secrecy how many of them she had never worn and forgotten buying.
One year ago today I became the blogging feign you see today! I recently discovered the amazing artist/blogger Igor + Andre who celebrated his blogavesary by consolidating his unique blogger portrait series into the above print listed here on Etsy. Danny does the most creative portraits of fellow bloggers that he admires which I totally wish I could do. You can check out all of the portraits here.
I started very tentatively and was obviously scared to commit. I think in the past 6 months I've started to hit my blogging stride. I love the sense of community it provides and I've made some good friends through the year. I have opened myself up emotionally at times and blatantly pimped my knitting at other times. So Happy Blogaversary to me and here's my first little post that I'm sure you all missed on the first go round:
So, I've been reading blogs and talking about blogs, and telling other people how they need to start their own blogs for years, but I've not gotten my butt in gear and started my own blog. Until now. So here it is my very own little blog. I will pet it and feed it and call it my own. Until I get bored and abandon it. I'll try not to but there are no promises. The only way I could get myself to do it was to set no rules for myself. The first step was simply to lay claim to the name and then we shall see if I can maintain any momentum.
I have a hard time committing to much of anything and the thought of having an agenda for this kind of thing scares me. I will talk about my Etsy shop, knitting, all the cool crap I buy on Etsy, and maybe a little about my wild and crazy life will slip in. Anyone who knows me will laugh because my life basically consists of my Etsy shop, knitting, and all the cool crap I buy on Etsy. So that will probably be about the extent of it, except for the occasional whine about work/husband or a gratuitous shot of a niece or nephew, probably modeling a scarf or other knitted item. A knitting tip or Etsy selling or buying experience will probably round out the blogging agenda around here.
I used to keep a journal back in my single days and have around 10 filled somewhere with pathetic attempts at poetry and deep thoughts. Now that I am sufficiently medicated and placated with my domestic life I have found little to say. But we shall give this a try and see how it goes....
This weekend I got serious about my Fall craft show display. I've been thinking about it A LOT the past month but it was time to put some verbs in my sentences as Dr. Phil would say. First thing I did was stain my new display shelves. After they dried I decoupaged the center panels on the front side with some earthy colored paper that I think goes really well with my banner and feel of my shop. I cut out pieces and used decoupage glue on both sides and made a sticky mess but it was actually lots of fun. I then painted the back sides of the panels beige. I'm really happy with how it came out. If I ever get sick of it I can scrap the paper off and repaint it.
I should be able to put 3 rows of scarflettes on each row which means I should be able to display around 40 scarflettes on it at a time. That will definitely be an advantage over last year where my little rack displayed less than 20 at a time.
After setting up the rough draft of my display above and studying the picture I found several things I didn't like. First I don't like the green tablecloth that I picked up at GoodWill. I think I will look for a brown sheet instead. I also thought the gray hands stood out like a sour thumb or 1 thumb and 4 fingers, pun intended. I decided to paint them and do a little of the decoupage on them as well. Don't look too closely at the picture. They look a little splotchy as I had just touched up the paint job.
I definitely wouldn't be able to use the other display shelf as it wouldn't fit on my table. The tables they provide at Strange Folk are bigger than mine so I might bring it just to see if I can use it there. I've been keeping my eyes open for a quilt rack that will match my fold up one so that I will have more matching displays for my scarves but if I don't find one I'm okay with using the ones I have this year. Overall I'm happy with my progress and I think I am going to have a much more professional and pulled together display this year which hopefully will mean an increase in sales.
It's 75 degrees today and isn't supposed to get above 80 all weekend long here in St. Louis. For the end of August that is unheard of so I'm going to try and take advantage. I'm going to photograph as much inventory as possible on Saturday and paint my shelves and I've got plans with a girlfriend to hit the big Wentzville Flea Market on Sunday.
I'm going to start relisting some of my expired inventory as we move into September and start listing some more fashion scarves like the one above in my Etsy shop here. I've been thinking a lot about my inventory for the Fall Craft Shows lately too. I'm thinking that I'm going to focus on what I know sells best. I've been knitting lower end scarves almost entirely for the past few months. I think that I have plenty of scarflettes and higher end scarves. Those are what I like doing most so I have to force myself to switch gears and build up the lower end inventory.
I'm going to continue to make and bring wristcuffs to the shows, like this cashmere one in my shop here. The cuffs sold more than any of my other non-scarf items last year. I am not going to use the cumbersome rack that I used last year but just hang as many as I can on the display hands I bought a few months ago that I talked about in this post. I'm not going to bother to bring anything else since they just take away from my scarf/scarflette display room. I sold a few necklaces and headbands last year but not enough to make it worth it.
I'm totally phasing out the barrettes. Next week I'm going to have a big sale on them and try to clear out what I can as they didn't sell as well as I hoped. Stay tuned if your interested in getting a great deal on hair accessories like this one.
I'm so excited that the long awaited new season of Project Runway will be premiering tonight at 9:00 p.m. on the Lifetime Channel. There was a lot of drama behind the scenes to get it moved from Bravo to Lifetime but I'm so glad the wait is over. Project Runway is the one show, besides The Office of course, that Mike and I always watch together. I love the fashion, the bitchiness, the drama, and watching the creative process unfold. It's one of the few reality shows that truly rewards and inspires talented people.
I actually owe the first season winner Jay McCarroll a huge thank you. His winning collection with its many hand knitted creations like the above outfit was the big push I needed to pick up the needles. I had been thinking about it and had even taken a crochet class but after seeing what could be done with knitting and the amazing colors of his collection I jumped in head first. He now has an online boutique called the colony, where you can buy his work. He has some very cool and reasonably priced creations there.
Today is Mike's first full day of teaching for the new year. Since we both work in education our lives really revolve by the school year more so than the calender year. The above planner by An Artful Agenda is perfect for kids or other people who live August to August. It has full page artwork from 10 different artists in a handy purse size.
I'm always a bit resentful of Mike when summer comes around since he has several months off right when I'm busiest at work. But come August when he goes back to work I have to start doing my share of the cooking and dishes again so there is a pay off.
My job is starting to calm down a bit since classes started for us on Monday. But if I hear one more student complain about having a 1 hour break in their schedule and wanting me to fix it I may lose it on them. I tell them to eat lunch or study and they look at me like I'm crazy. This freshman class is really making me feel old and crotchety for the first time. It started when I looked down and saw one of their birthdays on an application. They were actually born in 1991, the year I graduated high school. And there really is a different mindset in this group of kids. They were born with a cell phone in their pocket and are so much more watched over than we ever were. Hence the nickname for their parents, helicopter parents, since they are constantly hovering over them and doing things for them that they should be able to do for themselves.
I was venting to another advisor yesterday about how needy they were and I felt like I was becoming that old person complaining about "kids these days." I realized a few years ago that I had more in common and related better to their parents than the kids. Since I've always worked with college age kids this struck me as weird. I do think that working on a college campus helps me to stay youthful and up on the styles which is a good thing for my business. I just need to keep this in mind when they start driving me crazy!
A few weeks ago I was getting out the things I used for displays last year in my craft show booth. For the most part they were pretty sad pieces that I had picked up at garage sales and tried to give new life too. They were cheap and they served their purpose for my first real year of doing shows. I had a few wine racks and a coat rack that I'd tried to spray paint a tan color. As long as you didn't look too closely they were fine.
The poor rack I was using to display my scarflettes had to be replaced this year. It was falling apart and just didn't provide enough space to display enough of them at a time. I use quilt racks that are not matching but are very functional to display the majority of my scarves. I have one for $15 scarves and one for $30 scarves on either side of my table. My favorite is the black fold up one that my sister in law found for me at an antique mall in town for $15. It has 3 rows to hang items on and it folds up nicely for travel.
I had bought a shelf unit at an antique mall at some point this year and I got it out in hopes of being able to use it to display my scarflettes. It is not sturdy at all and has very thin rickety legs. Mike told me that it would be falling over whenever someone picked one up to look at it, not a great way to make a good impression. I said that I guess I'd better start hitting the garage sales to find something else. He than said something that I had never thought of before. He said, "Why don't you buy something that is made to display things and will travel easily." It was such a revolutionary idea. Buy something that was made to do what I was buying it to do. I really want to be a DIY person but I unfortunately don't have the skills that some people have to really repurpose things and have them be functional.
I felt like I was taking the easy way out but I decided to at least look and see what was out there for display purposes. I went on-line and found a store display warehouse but their items were almost entirely metal which I didn't think went with the feel of my display. I checked Craigslist and there were a few things I thought might work but I just didn't feel like putting out the effort to track them down. So I did what I usually see as a last resort. I checked Ebay.
I found a seller called blackriverartgallery who had items exactly like what I was looking for. They are fold up shelving units that lock into place and sit on your table top. You can find listings here and here for what I bought. The prices were perfectly reasonable and I actually got free shipping on one of the pieces and the other shipping rate was only $8. They store easily and fit in your car nicely. I will probably only use the larger piece this year that you see above, which I bought an extra shelf for so there will be 3 shelves to display. I think if I put both units on my table it would be too crowded but I'm going to do some experimenting this weekend with my displays to see. I'm glad I have them both since as I grow I will hopefully be expanding my display in the future.
I bought some spray wood stain and a matte finish at Michaels this weekend with a 25% off storewide coupon to make them look more finished. I am also thinking about doing a decoupage on the back panels with some earthy colored paper I have to add some interest. I don't want to go too crazy and distract from my scarflettes but I also want them to be uniquely me.
I had a particularly fun day yesterday which was well needed after the crazy past few weeks at work. I spent the day with Kai doing some back to school shopping and getting him some cool new clothes. I love shopping and I remember how important it was for me to have some new things at the beginning of the year. I got to go in Torrid which is right next to Hot Topic at the Galleria Mall and owned by the same parent company. They are a plus size retailer that sells truly cool and youthful clothing that I just discovered on-line recently.
Then we went to a pool party for our friend Chris's 35th birthday. Chris is in the top picture with Brian and Sandy's absurdly cute daughter Sophie. I call it the hipster baby as she's wearing Chris's hat. We took Kai and Ani to the party with us. Our friends Brandyn and Ajay have 2 daughters about their same ages. Brandyn and I have decided that Maleena and Kai will be getting married someday and have beautiful babies together. Mike says that the fact that we want it so bad guarantees that there is no chance in hell that they will ever get together.
They are both 13 and at the age when it is still cool to hang out with the adults and seemed to have fun last night. Their joke was to refuse to let me take a picture of the two of them together. Every time I got my camera out they took off running. I finally got a shot when Mike was chatting with them and they weren't paying attention to me. I also caught them goofing off at the end of the night. Kai put on one of his new outfits after he got out of the pool. He is quite the stylish guy as you can see.
Zara and Ani also had fun playing together and I thought they were going to turn into little mermaids they stayed in the pool so long. They would periodically get out to eat a brownie or two and blow some bubbles. I think that we all enjoyed the end of summer evening to its fullest.
I am so excited about my new craft booth banner from Wilson Graphics on Etsy, see here for a listing if you want your own. He took the little jpeg I sent him of my blog banner and turned it into the 10" tall x 43" long outdoor vinyl banner with 4 grommets to hang it. It was only $22, well worth the price and he had it to me in just a week.
I love my fabric letters that I used last year and I will still be using them somehow in my display but they just weren't very legible. People were always standing there trying to figure out what they said when they should have been looking at my scarves. This banner is clear and totally ties my booth in with my on-line presence which I think is important.
Wilson was so friendly and easy to work with. I am really tempted to buy some of his other amazing items including this wall graphic. I love the sleek and modern metroscape above but he really has something for just about any room or style. He's got big and small graphics and decals.
He obviously has a great love of nature because his work is full of birds and insects that come alive on your wall. I particularly like this butterfly which also has a nice message. He also has lots of great decals for a kid's room like the castle at the top of the bean stock or he has some amazing dinosaurs too.
I know that most of you who read my blog are pretty crafty folks. So did you know that there is a whole movement to combine your craft with activism? Autumn Wiggins who also founded the Strange Folk Festival is a major proponent of the Upcycle and green crafting movement. She is the head writer for the website CraftingAGreenWorld.com and has written several very informative articles for Etsy's Storque called Earth Tones: Make Like a Tree, Part 1 and Part 2.
These articles explore our use of mass produced supplies as crafters and the effect our handmade items have on the environment. She also discusses ways that we as makers can reclaim what others see as worthless trash that would end up in a landfill and turn them into treasures and even useful everyday items.
She is putting her talk into action this year with a new program called the Upcycle Exchange. It's trial run was at this Spring's Big Ass Indie Show and Strange Folk is next. I've signed up to participate and I'm very excited about the concept. Here is description from the website:
I am going to have a give away of a $40 gift certificate open to anyone who donates and I think I will also open it up to anyone who purchases from me that weekend as well. This way I can hopefully get my customers e-mails more easily for my mailing list which was another goal for this year's craft show season.
The Rock N Roll Craft Show 6 deadline to apply is coming up and I have been going back and forth about applying all month long. Normally I would just apply and worry about it later but this show has a $40 jury application fee that is non-refundable so I want to be sure about it before I apply. Since I can't seem to make a decision and I don't want to just wait too long and have the decision be made for me I thought I would put the pros and cons down here and let you help me decide.
I haven't done this show before but I've talked to others who have and they were happy with it. The application process is a total pain in the you know what. They use this on-line application called Zapplication which is pretty tedious in my opinion. You have to download pictures to their exact specifications which are listed here. I'm sure that I can do it in GIMP but it is annoying.
It is just like the Big Ass Indie Arts and Craft Show that I did last year and loved. It is a boutique style which means that they do all the displays and process the money. You don't have to be there the whole weekend, just for a 2 hour shift. It is on Thanksgiving weekend though which I plan on spending in Rolla with the family. My whole family will be in town and I would hate to have to come back early but it might be worth it if the show would be as successful as the other indie shows I've done in the past. That is my market and I really wanted to do at least 2 of the boutique shows this year. I would probably be coming back on Sunday anyways so as long as I could get my shift for Sunday afternoon I would be ok.
The Big Ass Show will be the following week so I would have to get my inventory updated right away and they both use a tagging process that I would have to make sure was compatible. Basically I want to do the show but I don't know if it is worth the stress. The timing is bad and being with my family is likely more important than the possible profit to be had. So what do you think should I or shouldn't I apply?
I got news recently that I made it into the Strange Folk Festival again this year. I posted about my experiences with it last year here. It was absolutely my favorite show ever. It was such a success not only financially but it was the first time I really enjoyed a show and felt like I was in my element. It has a very youthful and free spirit vibe to it which I love. I'm sure I'll be talking about it a lot between now and the end of September as I prepare for it. The website has been completely overhauled and is now a great PR spot for the festival. She has written lots of little posts about the vendors and other happenings for the weekend. I'm excited that one of my scarves is the representation for the knitting page which you can see here.
There is going to be a very green and eco-friendly focus to this year's festival so I'm going to incorporate that as much as possible into my preparations. Here is another update from the website that I'm really interested in:
"This year, Strange Folk celebrates the art of writing by welcoming local and regional authors to showcase and sell their books. We are working to bring in writers from a wide variety genres, and our schedule has not yet been finalized. If you are an author interested in participating, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by August 31st for more information.
This exhibit will also include a “Live Blogging” station – 10 computers available with internet access provided by The O’Fallon Library!"
So I can blog from the festival which will be cool and maybe next year if Mike has finally finished his book he can participate. They also have bands play but the boys didn't decide until too late to apply for this year.
I've been thinking a lot about my booth display for this year and how I can make it much more appealing and eye-catching. I'll be talking about it next week as I have started to put some of my thoughts into action.
I brought my camera to work last Friday for Rachel's shower. It was a glorious July day in the 80's with a nice breeze so I walked around campus on my lunch hour and took some snapshots. The campus is quite right now in between semesters so they were no students to look at me strange. We really do have a well thought out and maintained campus. It's not at all the image you get of the cold community college with boring bureaucratic buildings. We have interesting architecture with lots of sharp, clean lines and our maintenance crew is amazing at adding color and greenery touches wherever you turn. There is lots of orange on campus this year and I love the vibrancy of the above macro shot. The shot below is one of the many flower beds and you can see one of the 2 fountains on campus in the background.
We also have lots of geese and ducks that populate the 2 ponds on campus. I caught this group relaxing in the shade.
I also took a shot of my window that I look out on from my office. I'm looking out from my first floor window as I type, that overlooks my favorite tree. The bushes are pretty high right now but I usually can look out on my birds and other animals that populate the tree. I'm very lucky to have my own little patch of green that I look out on everyday as my desk actually faces the window. I had the tree guy in my office registering for a class last week and he was admiring my view and I dropped a hint that it is even nicer when the bushes are trimmed.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my home away from home!
Let me start off by saying I didn't in fact spend $263 on this yarn but that is what it is worth at full price. I've talked before about how I have to find ways to keep my yarn costs down to make my scarves affordable. If I bought the nice yarns I like to work with at full price I would never be able to sell them with any kind of a profit. I buy much of my yarn on-line at the sites I talked about in this long ago post. I do try to shop at the Local Yarn Shops (LYS) as much as possible but really only buy yarn for the business when they are having a sale.
About 4 times a year The Weaving Dept. in Florissant has a huge sale. They fill what they call The Barn with all of the discontinued, returned, and single ball yarns and mark everything 75% off. Most of it is novelty yarn or scarf yarn from name brands like Crystal Palace and Trendsetter which is just fine by me. If you get there early though you can find some single or double balls of wool and cotton. Every time I come away with some special surprise. A few visits ago I found a stash of Noro yarn and last time I found several single balls of cashmere which made lovely scarflettes. This visit there was tons of ribbon yarn as many yarn makers are moving away from man made yarns and focusing on more natural yarns. This makes me happy as I love natural fibers. But who can pass up all the amazing colors of discontinued ribbon yarn which knits up quickly into lovely scarves that I can sell for $15 at my craft shows and still make a profit.
I also really liked this thick and soft Tango yarn from Universal. It is a merino wool blend and I got as many balls as there was left. It was originally marked $9 a ball so I got them for $2.25. I'll have to knit the single ball with another yarn but the others that I have at least 2 of will make some really soft and colorful scarves by themselves.
A friend from work is pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. The fact that she hasn't gained a pound outside of baby weight would be enough to make you hate her if she wasn't the most sincerely sweet person I've ever met. We had her shower yesterday evening after work. She was a bit overwhelmed with all the gifts. Everyone had basically doubled what they would normally get for a shower one in pink and one in blue.
I used this super easy pattern to make matching hat and booties sets. I started them last week in a cotton yarn I had on hand. It came out way too big and when my niece Savannah got hold of it there was no returning it as you can see at the top of the page. I figured if it fit a 2 year old it would be pretty silly to give it to a newborn, even if Savannah still insists she is a baby. So I went out last weekend and got some different yarn and started again. This time they came out appropriately newborn sized. Mike said the booties looked too big but they are sized for a 6 month old so they should work this winter.
No, she is not having a 1 footed baby boy, that booty is unfortunately still on the needles. Due to the setback in yarn choice and the craziness of work this week I didn't get it done. I started it at midnight Thursday and I knew it would take at least an hour to finish so I added the ribbon touches and wrapped them up instead. She was promised the 4th booty on Monday. The picture of Rachel above is not the most flattering so please take a look at the shot of her in all of her pregnancy glory at the bottom of this post.
I also got her a set of iPood and iPeed onesies from Fun2Wear on Etsy which her husband got a real kick out of, and a few bathtime books.