Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Great Gift Reveal - Part 4

Oh my how the end of the year has snuck up on me this year. So very much has happened for me in the past year, but all that can wait. I have more handmade gifts to share with you today.

Originally I had purchased a Dalmatian print by johnwgolden for my mother, but her birthday present was running late in the mail so I gave it to her then. As a result I had to rush to find another handmade gift for the holiday. This one is from TheSofterSide. It was really too simple to make a great gift, but it worked well as a compliment to existing items. She has a great love for the Dalmatian and she almost always has a Dr. Pepper can in her hand, so if nothing else she has plenty of opportunity to use it.

My brother in law is also hard to shop for, but after he expressed great desire for brass statues to place atop his mantle. The vintage sellers on etsy had plenty of pieces for me to choose from. I settled on this family of ducks from theSaturdayShoppe and a unicorn from stephieD . The unicorn was especially interesting as it is identical to one his parents bought decades ago.

For my mother in law and my sister I added these cute little yarn shaped soaps from aBreathofFrenchair and I bought a few soaps from dennisanderson as well to add to gifts to others. They smell wonderful and make a great finishing touch to a box full of gifts, especially for people with yarn stashes the size of my mother in laws.

The last set of gifts I bought were from RedMarionette. From her I bought a whole bunch of finger puppets for stocking stuffers. They are so very cute and well made. Though I think I picked up a few more things throughout the last few months I shall stop the sharing here. I was certainly happy with all of my purchases and I got the impression that they were well received as well. Tomorrow starts a whole new year and I wish the best for all of you and yours!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Great Gift Reveal - Part 3

So you might be wondering how many of these posts I'm gonna do...well I don't know. There is at least one more after this. Honestly, these have allowed me to keep blogging though my life is not back on schedule yet. Since we have one more week of holiday strangeness and our annual trip to Macworld next week, it will be a while before normality is reached again.

Today, I shall drag out the jewelery gifts I picked out. First off is a return order to zozo. Her garden is full of really unique pieces that I wish I had occasion to wear. Lucky for me, my brothers girlfriend Mary has just the right look to pull off these great pieces. They come gift wrapped in the cutest boxes and I'm certain to buy more from her in the future.

For my sister, I visited two extremely different jewelry artisans. The first is an old etsy friend ahna. She make the most wonderful silver hammered jewelry and handcrafted stone cabochons. I own some earrings and a gorgeous ring that she made. This was one piece that I honestly almost kept for myself mostly because I adore the amazing purples in the piece, but I let it go reluctantly. I hope my sister appreciates the sacrifice.

For something completely different and much more casual, I visited azurine. I picked up both this set of earrings and a pendant. They are hand painted glass pieces. They have a very simple yet striking design that is perfect for an everyday look. I'm sure I could have kept these too, but as a stay at home type, I tend to pick one pair of silver earrings and wear them constantly.

The last thing I'd like to show off today was a gift I received from my husband. He selected this ring from CatherinetteRings that he found in my favorites. The really interesting thing about this rings is that I generally do not like wire wrapped rings. Usually they give off the vibe of not just handmade, but too easy to make. This is not that kind of ring. It is made in such a distinctive style, is comfortable and, well awesome. It has this great steampunk vibe even in silver which is great for me since I only do silver jewelry.

Tomorrow, I have some more handcrafted goodness to share and who knows maybe the next day too. Sure I could have done one long post, but this way the artisans that created my Christmas get a little more attention.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Great Gift Reveal - Part 2

I had a hard time deciding whether to do jewelry or manly gifts today. I have settled on showing off the gifts to the men in my life. I don't know about you, but buying on etsy for the males in my life is, well, challenging. They are not a bunch of hipsters or even classic man types so I have to look long and hard. First up is a gift for my brother who is in his first year as a high school teacher. He also has an obsession with the ocean and sharks. This tie from simplyneckties seemed like s good place to start.

Both of my brothers are also into photography and I thought that these key chains from TimothyAdamDesigns would be a perfect addition to their gifts too. They are small and interesting, though I have to admit that one of my brothers had to be told that it was a camera...oh well, I tried.

My youngest brothers obsessions include not only photography, art and his cats, but also bikes. I really thought I was done shopping when I saw this clock by 1byliz. Not only is this piece made from salvaged materials, but unlike a lot of recycled things, it is very chic looking. I was really excited to find this one for him.

One last handmade thing today. This one was for my father-in-law who is notoriously hard to shop for. It's not because he is very picky, but he simply buys himself what he actually wants. We usually give him a plethora of gift cards and that appears to make him happy, but I was determined to get him something handmade. I settled on this wood puzzle by sopsop88 , though I won't be really surprised if he never puts it together. It's still a neat little piece to add to all those gift cards.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Great Gift Reveal - Part 1

For my first great handmade gift reveal, I shall start with the stuffed. I have been so lucky to find so many wonderful sellers that will make exactly what you imagine. The first pieces I had made were by weirdbuglady. My daughter has an obsession with praying mantids and thankfully I knew exactly where to get one made. This pieces was made to very realistic specs and it is huge and cuddly to boot. While I was at it, I had her make a small rat for my husband. Even though we are currently without rat friends mostly for fear that the one year old would not be gentle, we love the ratties so much.



For my next piece of stuffed goodness, I asked the sweetestpea to make me a special penguin for my mother in law. She loves the color green and she loves the penguins, so a fat penguin seemed the ideal gift for her. Not only was the stuffie made quickly and in the perfect shade, but a personal touch of a mask was added. It always shocks me to find out that the sellers I admire so much know who I am and what I make. I was very impressed with the quality of this little guy. It would have been at home in a very high end toy store.

My last stuffie was a ready made piece that was perfect for my youngest daughter, who for some reason loves apples. Maybe she just loves saying apple, I'm not sure, but either way this was the handmade piece of goodness for her. Made by PterodactylPants, it's a huge rainbow apple that also reveals a household affection for apple computers that goes way back. It like the other pieces, is soft, well made and exactly what I wanted for a gift.

I have barely scratched the surface of the handmade gift reveal today, so stay tuned for more wonderful pieces next week. It was a pleasure shopping with these sellers and I do recommend them wholeheartedly for all your stuffed needs.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

T'was the day before Christmas and I just finished wrapping the gifts. Back from the coast where the weather was warmer, the people were nicer and the days not nearly long enough, I find myself exhausted and rested all at once. I both love and loath the holidays and I'm glad that they are almost upon us. I really can't wait to share all the gifts that I bought for the family on etsy and I really hope that they love them as well. So much work went into both their creation and their selection and I always worry that a few will fall flat.

I have not picked up a tatting needle in a couple of days and with all the cleaning I must do to host the holiday meal, I'm certain that they will be neglected just a while longer. While I was quite happy with the many sales I received during the last few weeks and I will surely be disappointed to see them dwindle down, I am also looking forward to a little rest and perhaps some time to create new pieces. I've also let a bunch of pieces expire and I will probably donate them someplace since they no longer fit in with my other things.

We also took a trip to Gold Coast Tattoo while we were in Monterey and added some fresh ink in honor of our daughters. My mother-in-law also added a bracelet to her already extensive collection of small tattoos. I haven't uploaded any of my vacation photos yet, but as soon as I do, I'll share a little of my trip with you.

So, have a Merry Christmas tomorrow if that is your thing, if not have some other happy holiday and I'll see you in a couple of days!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Down By The Sea

Well folks, I'm off the the coast for a couple of days. We're going to Monterey and then we'll be back for the Holiday so posting shall be at best sporadic for the next week or so. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season. We did not do a Solstice party this year due to my daughters ear infections, but I hope you had a good one of those as well.

I'm taking a break from the tatting for a while as well because when I get back to it, I will be remaking all of my favorite pieces that sold out during holiday shopping and that is a daunting task. So see you all later!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Marketing Genius

I've made it a habit of late to simply follow anyone who follows me on twitter at least until they do something annoying enough to get me to unfollow them. Recently I begun following a bloke who apparently specializes in craft businesses. Right after I followed him back, he sent a direct message asking me what my most pressing marketing question was. I thought about it for a bit and then realized that I really don't want to market myself at all.

I know that probably seem anti productive, but at this point I really don't want to bother. When I first started selling, sure I was jumping up and down and screaming look at me in as many ways as I could think of, but now I just want to maintain. I started the blog because I was told it was a good marketing tool, but honestly I just do it now because I like to write about my experiences and I couldn't care less if I'm getting more traffic or not. I started on twitter for the same reason and I certainly use it to announce that I just listed something or posted something, but I like it better for the interaction with like minded folk than as a ploy to get customers.

I don't post ads anywhere unless it's part of a team ad and I've really lost interest in expanding my store fronts to other venues. I don't sell at fairs or shows or any brick and mortar stores. I find I have enough business to justify my continued creations and I am sufficiently busy especially given that I have two small kids to take care of as well. Do I still want to be famous? Damn skippy, I do, but I'm content to keep making interesting pieces and waiting to be discovered. So my marketing plan is as little marketing as possible. I know, genius, right?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting Back To Normal

Yesterday I again did something odd. I cleaned the house. For the first time since my daughter got her ear infections, both children were happy enough to leave to their own devices as I whirled through the house vacuuming, washing dishes and doing the laundry. It was not an exciting day, but I have to tell you, I feel better that I got the cleaning done before the house started to rebel.

I worked some more on the crocheted shoes, but it looks like my choice to use existing materials particularly for the sole is resulting in a less than stellar specimen. After I finish these, I'll go ahead and make a pair as slippers and hopefully those will look good enough to show off. All I managed to tat yesterday was a few more pendants for fellow steamteamers. I felt awfully guilty leaving out the enormous stack of packages for my mail carrier to pick up, but they are all off on their way now and that is a huge relieve.

I am again feeling pressure to share some of my patterns. I've had such a great response to both the scarf pattern that I shared here on the blog as well as my instructable for the tatted mask. I can't decide however, on what to share next. Should it be something simple like the scarf that newcomers can try out or something more complex like one of my collar necklaces? If you've any opinion on the matter, please share. I think that after the holidays I will get another pattern up somehow and I am still mulling the idea of repeating the tatting challenge. It was a lot of work, but if I have enough people that want to participate, I'll definitely do it again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just For Me

I did something odd yesterday. I bought a crochet shoe pattern and I started making them. I honestly can't remember the last time I made something just for me. It has also been a hogs age since I crocheted anything. It's been even longer since I knitted. What's funny is the whole reason I picked up tatting in the first place was because I was burnt out from too much knitting and crochet and I needed something new to try. A few years later I'm still tatting and I find it just as challenging as it is relaxing for me. I hadn't even had the desire to revisit my previous vices until recently. I plan on taking a tatting vacation the week of Christmas and maybe I'll pick up some knitting needles and reconnect with my inner knitter.

The shoes I'm working on are from a pattern by Sylver. I'm just using yarn from my stash and some old hemp thread doubled that I had from my macrame days. Crocheting with the hemp is, well, uncomfortable and I got several fibers stuck in my finger as I doubled the thread. They will no doubt look very little like the great ones in the picture, but that's fine. I count the first draft as a prototype. It also didn't help that I don't have an 'I' hook on hand of course. If they turn out alright I'll show them off and if not this is the last you'll hear about them.

This is actually the first pattern I've bought from etsy as I am a cheapskate and I usually just adapt free patterns to my purposes, but this one looked so comfortable and well fitted that I thought I'd splurge on one. It's fairly well written and looks very professional and I had it emailed to me in a matter of minutes. She's got another pattern I like as well and perhaps I'll make some slippers for the kids too. I guess it depends on how adventurous I'm feeling and how much of a break I need from up stocking the store with tatting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Handmade Holiday Part 2

Yesterday I got my very last etsy ordered gift. I was really excited that I managed to get so many handmade presents that my family will actually like. I was really worried going into the holidays that I would have a hard time finding things they would actually appreciate and enjoy and there were a couple of people I gave up on trying for. For the most part it was a success and now is the hard part...waiting. You see, I really want to show off all these great things I got, but I can't. I have to wait until after the holidays because some of my family reads the blog.

This annoyance gave birth to a great idea I'm calling Gifts Exposed. Right after Christmas I shall begin posting all the etsy gifts I gave away and give each of their creators a little shout out as a thank you. I bought enough that it should take up at least the better part of the week. It should also provide a break from all my tatting talk. Of course I am now reminded that though all my shopping is well done, I still need to pull out all those hidden gifts and get wrapping. I really dislike wrapping gifts mostly because I have cats and kids that like to "help". Their efforts extend the wrapping time considerably.

I've got a couple of pieces I'd like to remake for the store today, but I'm officially caught up with mask orders. I did make a slave bracelet in black that I plan on getting listed today, but that depends on whether the kids let me take pictures later or not. It will only fit someone with a tiny hand such as myself, but there are plenty of us out there...I think. I also have to finish tatting my gifts for the SteamTeam members. I'm really glad to be able to give so much this year and I hope next year is even better.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Well, at least here it is and it has me in a sedentary mood. It's a good thing that I made it out of the house on Saturday to finish the last of the Holiday shopping, namely the gift certificates that make up for the other, let's say less pricey gifts. Otherwise we spent another weekend in trying to help the kids heal and while the youngest is now fine the oldest is still in need of stay at home TLC.

I finished up a custom mask and then got a request for a pair of slave bracelets. That is one piece of jewelry that I always wanted and could never wear. I just couldn't seem to pull the look off at all so I gave up. When I started tatting cuffs I toyed with the idea of making some, but I could never come up with a way to make them adjustable to fit a wide range of hands. With a proper set of measurements, I was finally able to design a pair and lucky for me the measurements were nearly the same as my own.

I started with my 'La Petite Goth' cuff and substituted another vintage pattern for the pointed section. I added a matching medallion in the center and then made a Josephine ring for, well the ring. To wear the bracelet, you simply put the ring portion on first and hook the bracelet. I wore the first one around for a little while and it moved well with my hand and was fairly comfortable. I'm certain that I will make another to sell, perhaps as a custom piece so I can adjust the pattern to other sized hands.

I thought I wouldn't get around to these until this week, but I needed a break from making up masks and the process of design really provides a diversion from the monotony of remaking the same pieces over and over again. Of course now that they are done, I'm back to the masks. It was fun while it lasted and since the holiday rush has now reduced to a trickle perhaps I'll get to create a little more going forward.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Limited Edition

One up side to being glued to the couch comforting a sick child, is the amount of tatting I can get done. Yesterday was another down sales day, so I broke out the hand dyed thread I bought a bit ago and started working. I bought the thread solely because I liked the colors and thought it would be nice to finally try out the hand dyed stuff. The colors weren't quite as vivid as I thought and since the seller was new to dying there are a few white spots, but I generally liked the effect.

I decided to just start tatting pieces to see how far the small skein would get me. The answer is two necklaces and three pendants. At least now I know that if I like another colorway, I can probably complete a mask or collar necklace easily with one skein. I am so bad at gauging the amount of thread I need for a project mostly because I don't need to know. One ball of thread will last so many pieces that I pay little attention at all.

Anyway, all the pieces made with this thread will hopefully all be listed today. I've got a couple more things that I'd like to get remade and listed and then I have a goodie bag of yarn that was gifted to me so I was thinking about working on a new scarf or caplet. Of course this all depends on the mood of the kids as I am completely at their whim at least until they are feeling better.

Hopefully next week will start out with healthy children and a happy household for the holidays...yes, I am knocking on wood.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nice And Calm

After what must have been a whole week of whirlwind events, yesterday was strangely quiet. No emails, no orders, no drama at all. I have to admit it was kind of nice. I spent most of the day comforting one sick child and keeping the well child entertained so she would stop jumping on her sister. I worked a little on a custom mask, but other than that, there was no tatting either. I suppose it is too soon to say whether this is the calm after the storm or simply a false calm like the eye of the storm.

So with all the non events of yesterday, I really have little to say today. Ooh, I did get some lovely earrings I ordered in the mail yesterday. So, I guess I'll show them to you. They are from duckduckgoosestuff and I absolutely love wearing them. I love unique earrings with simple lines, but have a nasty habit of losing them. I doubt that is possible as they would have to do some ridiculously complicated swerves to get out of my ear without me knowing.

I also want to pick up some of her ear coils meant to coil through several holes since I have 4 on the lobes of each ear and I love lacing ear threads through them. These pieces are incredibly simple, but create a striking image and I'm so glad I found this shop across the pond!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Times, They Are Changing

I don't read blogs, not really anyway. Given that, it's odd that I find myself feeling a little guilty for not reading the few that I do follow. I don't read them because they have great features or are particularly well written or exciting. I read them because I like the folk that write them. It has become my way of keeping up with a little piece of their lives much like I would call an old friend to catch up. I've just been so busy with so many different things lately. Most prominent is my poor sick kids, but I've also spent more time dealing with orders and tatting than I ever have before.

I think that this change in my daily dynamic is starting to settle in and I'm starting to really notice the changes. I haven't posted in a forum topic in what must be weeks save for the daily blog thread. I haven't been spending time hanging out on twitter, just posting now and again and staying just long enough to catch any responses. I'm not compulsively checking the Steamteam forum, or my google analytics, flickr or anything else I used to do on a regular basis. I'm writing a blog post, dropping the links and getting out of my virtual world.

Sure, I still have the laptop at an arms length and I check my email...a lot, but things have definitely changed. I don't know it will all stick when the kids are better and the holidays are over. I'm not even sure whether it's better or worse this way, just different. I do hope these kids heal up soon though, that part is weighing on my sanity something fierce. Well, back to the real world.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another High, Another Low

I'm afraid it's gonna be another short one today. My household has been struggling with colds and ear infections for a week and since both of my oldest daughters' eardrums have burst now, it should be another week of the same. We're all a bit exhausted and though there are some good patched throughout the day it's rough going generally.

In a twist that really shouldn't surprise me at all, fate has thrust a streak of unprecedented attention on my tatting just as my attention is required elsewhere. I can not complain about the high level of orders that have resulted from the attention, I can't even complain about the amount of custom orders that are keeping my hands busy as I cuddle my kids, but it is certainly unfortunate timing.

I promised a short blog, but I do have one more small thing to share. Yesterday I had a seriously, and I'm not overselling it, an O.M.G. moment. Just as my husband was back to work after lunch I received an order from what appeared to be a T.V. show. I shared this with him and he asked, "Are you sure?" to which I answered, "No". Well a couple of google searches later, I was sure. The name checked out as the property manager of said show. I was understandable excited. I really don't know if there is an unwritten rule about talking about these sort of things. I know that often people on the etsy have sold to celebrities and have refused to name names to protect the privacy of the customer, but does that apply here?

I learned this morning that another seller I know also sold something to the same person/show and that increases the possibility that the item will be on the show. This is really huge as it is a very buzzed about show, that I don't watch, but who cares right? I guess I'll share more details later if I feel comfortable that in doing so I don't burn bridges or upset some order I'm unaware of. Suffice it to say, it was a bittersweet day full of sickness infused lows and tatting infused highs and I'm not sure where I'm going from here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

500!

I just had an amazing milestone occur this morning, my 5ooth sale on etsy. I really wish I had more time to get excited, but truth be told I'm almost busier than I can handle both with orders and two kids who seem to want to stay sick as long as possible. I'm backed up on mask orders, (thanks Boing Boing) and I've got a couple on non pays to babysit as well. Heck, I wanted to do a big 500th sale deal, but it happened before I could set anything up. I guess I'll save the hoopla for the 1000th order. I should have time to get that one set up...I think.

I have to make it really short this morning, but I also wanted to quickly share that after all the instructables/craft/boingboing stuff that occurred with my tatted mask, I did manage to get a real instructable up for the mask. For the uninitiated, that the pattern and step by step instructions. You can find it here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Tatted_Mask_1/. It is written assuming that you are at least an intermediately skilled tatter, so I apologize to beginners who think I wrote it in Greek or something. Even if you don't tat you can check it out to see the evolution of one of my more complex pieces and leave some comments so i know you visited. Alright, back to the kids and those masks.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wow!

Normally, I don't keep harping on the same subject two days in a row. It's boring and most event don't really have any more development to follow anyway, but today is different. The tatted mask fame that began yesterday continued to my amazement and shock. First I received a google alert that the mask had been posted on Crafts blog. This was amazing enough, but this morning I awoke to another alert that the craft post had been picked up by boing boing! Even my husband was shocked at this one. It's one thing to make the rounds of the craft circuit, but it's quite another when a site my husband frequents features me.

Honestly, I'm still reeling a bit. Whats even more surreal is that this is not just a picture of a piece that I made, but a picture of ME wearing a piece I made. My face is literally plastered across the web right now and that my friends is something I never imagined would happen to me. Even though my face is covered by a mask and I'm not likely to ever be recognized it's still...wow.

My sales have been brisk as well, either coincidentally or not I've had no time to make anything new or old and I just spent the first part of the morning packing up orders. It's a good thing that the kids are feeling a bit better or I would be having a breakdown right now. I have no idea if this kind of exposure will be long lasting or just another 15 minutes of fame, but I'm sure enjoying the ride. Please check out the links and comment if you have time!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Tatted Mask Strikes Again

You might have noticed that I wasn't around yesterday. I have a really good excuse though. My daughters eardrum burst and her sister was sick as well. We spent the morning at the doctors office and I spent the rest of the day playing nursemaid to the two of them. There was a lot of napping, but while they were awake, there was crying and clinging and I guess blogging really didn't seem important.

As the evening arrived, they did seem a bit better and I received an email from flickr. My tatted mask had won a third place in the diy/instructables Halloween contest in the costume category. I had entered simply by adding a photo to their flickr pool and I almost forgot about it, assuming of course that I had no chance up against some of the amazing creation featured there. In the message I received, it was suggested that I also upload a slideshow to the site which required no step by step instruction, so I went ahead and did so again assuming it would be lost among the other more interesting thing on the site. Moments later I received a message saying that the slideshow was featured on the front page of Instructables. I've no idea how it will be there, so run now and take a look.

It has been pointed out that there are no instructions, so why is it featured? I've no idea, they thought it was cool enough I guess. I will tell you though, the interface to make the slideshow was super easy and I just might have to try my hand at listing some patterns there in the future. So a bad day ended on a high note and the tatted mask has again asserted itself as my claim to fame. I still laugh that it started out as a custom request from someone who changed their mind. I guess the moral of the story is, if someone challenges you to make something unexpected, take the challenge, you never know where it might take you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doctor Mom

The chaos at my house has grown considerably in the last day as the second child gets sick and the first has developed an earache that she doesn't understand. Taking care of sick children is so very all encompassing and exhausting. The guilt over not being able to make it all just go away is the worst of all. I feel like I should have some sort of magic parent wand that fixes everything, but alas there is no such wand and all the reassurance in the world does not take the pain away. I suppose I should stop beating myself up over it, but since the kids are so young I know that this is just the beginning of many more things I can't fix and I feel a little helpless.

I did finish my most recent custom order yesterday. It was the second scarf tatted in my Art Deco pattern. This time around it worked up much faster since I knew where I was going with it when I started. The yarn was a hand dyed merino wool from knitmommy.etsy.com. It's a much richer brown than my pictures reveal. I really like giving people the option of picking their own yarn to make the scarfs with. Plus, it means I'm not spending days making a scarf in colors than may or may not appeal to anyone but me.

I got a few more ideas for projects by looking at my google analytics for the blog yesterday. Every time a search brings people to the blog, I get to see what it was they were searching for and it has certainly given me some interesting ideas over the last few months. Of course, I'm otherwise occupied with sick children so it may be a while before any of them come to fruition, but it's nice to add more things to that imaginary project list. Back to the kids now, I hope they feel better soon!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Long Weekend

I'm certainly feeling a little muddled up this morning and it was an amazingly long weekend. It all started with a visit from an old friend, then the Thanksgiving meal at our house. This was followed by a trip to the movies on Friday, decorating the tree on Saturday and a Sunday in with a sick kid. Even though I was able to write that all out in a single thought, it was a very long and drawn out span of time with little of consequence actually getting done.

I got in some yarn on Saturday that was ordered to make a custom tatted scarf, so once I got that all rolled up, I started work on the scarf. I was actually amazed at how much faster the Art Deco scarf is coming along this time. Though I did need to constantly refer back to the pictures of the one I sold for the edging, the motifs worked up like clockwork and the project I was afraid would take up the better part on the week could be done as early as this evening. Speaking of custom order fear, I finally sold the custom caplet to its intended recipient. I had worried that it would not meet expectations, but I worried for nothing. This of course does not mean that I will cease irrational stress over custom orders, but it really is a relieve to have this one on its way to its owner.

Weekend sales were not amazing, but better than I had thought they would be. I still don't think that my free gift or shipping upgrade swayed any casual shoppers and it is much more likely that these purchases would have been made anyway. Still, I feel pretty good about sending freebies out for the holidays. I used to do it with every order, but soon I was spending more time tatting free bookmarks than I was making things to sell. Really, I think people just want what they ordered made well, shipped quickly and friendly customer service, so that's what I've done since.

Well, the other kid is sick now and it promises to be an even longer week than it was a weekend. I did try out an old tatting pattern called beading over the weekend that might make it into the store this week in the form of a new necklace and bracelet, but no promises. I'm likely to remain muddled up for a bit longer.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ah, Black Friday

For many, Black Friday is a day full of crazy deals and exhaustive shopping. It was for me, that is until I worked in retail for a few too many years. Now black Friday is a day of hibernation, a day to avoid all retail outlets no matter what the deal may be. So here I sit, surrounded by the fading smells of Smallpox Blanket Day (thanks for that, Warren Ellis) with my laptop in hand searching out the few online deals that strike my husbands fancy.

With all that in mind, I struggled with the idea of a weekend sale. I assumed, as I seem to always do, that other people think like me and aren't really all that interested in crazy deals that are not meant to last more than a few days. However, I did decide to offer up a free gift with purchase until Monday and a free upgrade to Priority shipping for all orders over $25. This kind of deal is honestly the least amount of effort I can expend. I don't have to send new invoices and I will probably end up making only a couple of free gifts because these kinds of offer have never resulted in sales for me.

I'm not sure why I even bother given my history with offers. I'm starting to wonder if it's a feeble attempt to be a part of the Black Friday cultural event without subjecting myself to actual shopping. In any event, my deal is good through Monday and I may continue to offer the shipping upgrade through the holiday season. We might try to go see a movie later with the family if we get brave enough and of course the holiday decorations need to come in from the garage. In a couple of days, Christmas will have thrown up all over the house and I'll have to let the kids start watching the holiday DVDs. It is now officially that time of the year and I'm a little scared.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finished

Oh, joyous day! I have finished the custom order collar I've been working on for what seems like forever. The piece was based on the Victorian Lace collar that I made to match a character in a Castlevania game. I was asked to make a caplet in the same style and I foolishly agreed to do so. Don't get me wrong, I love the way this piece came out, but I failed to take into account the ever increasing rows of the design. I quoted what I thought was a reasonable price for the amount of work, but as the caplet got longer, I realized that I should have thought of the piece more as an enormous doily than a collar.

I made most of the piece in a free form style, which is a fancy way of saying that I just made it up as I went along so i can never make another exactly like it, even if I wanted to. Now I just have to wait for the customer to see the piece and I have to tell you that I am more than a little apprehensive about that moment. I sent a message last night when I finished it, but I'm sure I will be waiting a while to hear if it passes muster. The wait will be murder.

I've just got a couple more pieces to list from the Steampowered stash and I should get that done today. I'm still not sure if I'm going to offer any kind of holiday offer this season. I'm thinking about offering a free priority shipping upgrade to all orders over a certain amount, but I don't know if that even appeals to people. I personally like cheap shipping, but I don't think it has ever swayed me into buying something that I wouldn't have otherwise.

I don't know if I'll write tomorrow, so if I don't have a great Thanksgiving, eat much and be merry.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Answer The Bloody Question

This is a bit of simple advice for anyone who has ever sold or ever plans on selling handmade goods or anything else really. Answer all your messages, emails, convos, whatever. Seriously, you need to do this in a timely manner unless you like to drive people away. Recently I sent a message to a seller because I really wanted to buy something from them and I simply wanted to know if they could make it in a different color. Several days later, I still haven't gotten a response and trust me this is not a good thing. I don't care if the answer to me question is yes or no or something in between, I just want an answer, it's important to me. I don't expect to get a response immediately or even the next day, but I do expect one. It has been so long now that even if I were to get a positive response, I wouldn't buy the item even though I really love it.

I accept that people have lives as well as unexpected events that take them away from the computer. The problem is that I often see these unresponsive people in the forums, listing new items and generally around online. If you have time to do all of that you have time to answer a simple question. You may think it's not a big deal to ignore one message, but I imagine that if you're ignoring one, you're ignoring more and while I'm not the sort to name names, other certainly might and really they should. If you got awful customer service from a major company, you would have no problem sharing that information with others, so really why should it be any different with a etsy or other handmade store.

I'm starting to think that this is turning into a tirade and I really didn't mean it to be one. I simply wanted to remind people to answer question, to generally communicate with others in a way you would want to be communicated with. I know I try to answer all my messages even if the questions are redundant or the questioner keeps asking questions that make me want to pull my hair out. I even answer the occasional,'how do you do that?' question. Of course I don't mean you should always give them the answer they want, but a polite, 'sorry, that's my secret' will suffice. The point is, you never know who is a potential customer and you should treat everyone as if they plan on spending hundreds of dollars with you.

Alright, that's all out of my system now. I'm on the last row of my custom order collar and I managed to list a bunch of stuff yesterday. I've got a few more pieces to list today and then I'm going into supply and demand mode. I'll just be remaking items that sell and custom orders so I don't overtax myself during the holiday season. All those crazy project ideas I've got swirling around will have to wait until after the holidays when the dust has finally settled.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Breath

It going to be one of those weeks. I just spent the better part of the weekend attending birthday celebrations, from parties for two 4 year olds on Saturday to the 70th birthday dinner of my father-in-law on Sunday. I got little rest with which to begin this week of chaos. We have volunteered to host thanksgiving at our house. As I don't do any of the cooking, aside from babysitting the turkey this simply means that I must clean the house. More importantly I must keep the house clean despite the considerable efforts of my children to keep the house otherwise. Normally I would simply wait until Wednesday night to clean to keep them form undoing it, but we shall have guests on Wednesday as well, so I might as well get started.

I also got back all the pieces I sent to the Steam Powered convention this weekend. I only sold three at the event so the stack was considerable. I relisted all the pieces that I had just taken out of the shop, but there were many pieces that I made just for the show that I need to take pictures of to get listed. The weather is not nice enough for live pics outside so I'm just having to settle for light box ones. If nothing else this is making me appreciate the live pictures I have taken a little more. I'm trying to space out the new listings, but I still feel like I'm listing too much too quick. I suppose I can't sell it if it's not listed so it really is better to get them up. I even got the tatted cuffs I made for Belle Armoire back too, so I'm listing those as well.

All this and I still have one big custom collar I'm been working on for what seems like forever and it is showing no signs of being finished as each row is longer than the last. I want to get a few of my recently sold items remade as well, especially my new Victorian corsage piece so I have as many pieces listed for the weekend as possible just in case I get any of the famed Black Friday or Cyber Monday traffic. I'm not planning any sales for the occasion mostly because I've never had any luck with sales. I usually end up with no one biting at all and a guilty feeling about any sales that occurred right before or after the sale. So yeah, it's going to be one of those weeks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Critical Mass

The locust swarm is on the move again. This time the fields they are devouring are the newest crop of handmade selling venues. It seems that every time I turn around there is someone touting the newest best thing they just discovered. Either the place is just so very reasonably priced or the folk running it are available for every question and comment you have. It appears that this new batch contains strictly juried sites and the masochist is me wants to see if I stand up to the scrutiny. I see the names fly by on twitter, Artfire, 1000 Market, etc. and I continue to be tempted, but I am holding strong on this one.

I can hear the protests now, 'It's not wise to leave all your eggs in one basket'. Sure I can and I think that metaphor works the other way around as well. If all my eggs are in one basket, not only do I always know where all my eggs are without much effort at all, I also have only one basket to take care of, promote and fill up with goods. I know that this potentially limits my audience, but honestly I'm tired as it is.

I really don't know much about these new sites except what I see on Twitter and quick curious glaces at the sites, so I'm not knocking any of them. I'm certain that some of them will do quite well, just as some are likely to gain no momentum beyond the already converted crafters. I just know that I don't have the time or energy to create multiple storefronts. Each storefront would require its own set of promotion efforts, pieces and networking. In fact even though I was already accepted to lollishops, I still don't know whether I'm going to bother with it at all. There has been so much time between signing up and the actually opening that I'm really lost enthusiasm for it at this point.

What I'd really like is to sell stuff at a tempo that allows me to create new pieces along with recreating sold ones. A tempo that allows me not only time to write this blog, but network at me leisure as well. I also have two small kids and a household to take care of and I fear that any more promotion would result in a neglected family to go along with the already neglected laundry and dishes. I'm afraid I have already reached critical mass.

When I first started writing this blog, I had a plethora on pent up opinions and wrote many in rapid fire succession. One of those was about whether you have a handmade business or a self sustaining hobby: Who Do You Want To Be Today. While breaking down the differences, in my opinion, I concluded that I have a self sustaining hobby and even though I'm doing much better than I was then, I still have a self sustaining hobby. I can only make so much stuff and keep up with my family and while they remain my time intensive priority that's the way it will remain.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why Etsy Does It

Let me start off today by pointing out that I have no business education or experience beyond a stint in retail management. I also have no 'in' with Etsy, real or imagined. Everything that follows is pure conjecture based on simple observation.

Now a little background, yesterday Etsy implemented a few changes. The most obvious of which was a front page face lift which had the temporary effect of a gift guide taking up the entire right side of the screen. While this glitch went away with a simple refresh and was in reality a small two picture box in the top corner it caused quite an uproar in the massive chat room that is twitter. Folks who have been vocal about their dislike of gift guides on the site were livid and the change just enhanced their argument.

Now for my analysis. First of all Etsy sellers, the front page, yeah, it's not there for you. Nope, not even a little bit. The front page is the face of Etsy the company, it is all about the buyers. It is there to set the bait for them, to entice them to shop. That is it's only purpose and as such it is in the best interest of the company to make that face pretty, interesting and above all to make people want to shop there. The shopper doesn't care if a seller is on the cover all the time or if a seller has never been featured, the buyer doesn't care about the perceived inequality of the gift guides, they just want to get a handmade gift for their sister and they want to get it fast and easy.
Etsy uses that front page to create an image that appeals to its core demographic, it uses gift guides to help people start shopping and really clicking through to items. It is the bait, you as a seller must set your own traps.

There is plenty that Etsy does for the seller. It creates a simple and inexpensive way to list items, it maintains forums, chat rooms, hosts tutorials and writes help articles. I know that there are plenty of other things that seller wish they would do like stats and a more efficient search system, but seriously, they appear to working their backsides off and there is just no way to please hundreds of thousands of people. I'm not trying to be an Etsy cheerleader, but I think that there are just so many people who don't 'get' it. Sure, Etsy started as a way for people to make a living selling handmade items and along the way they've had to compromise a bit of that to make a living themselves. Do I miss the old Etsy? Sometimes, but I'm more excited to see them grow and I understand why they have done the things they have, even if I sometimes disagree with them.

Well, I think I got that all out of my system. I've got a whole bunch of pieces to make right now and I'm getting a little nervous about the impending holiday season. The fog has started rolling in here in the Central Valley and even though it's still in the 70's, it won't be long until Christmas overtakes us all. Deep breath...here it comes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sure, That's What It Is

I used to be a pop culture expert, well perhaps not expert, but I knew way more than was necessary. This was of course before I stopped working at the retail end of the entertainment industry. Since then my knowledge has drifted toward the toddler end of the spectrum, so it wasn't really a surprise that I had not heard about the Twilight phenomenon until it started infiltrating just about everything in the last couple of months. When I heard it was about vampires, I was curious enough to do a little research. I think I learned just enough to know that I would not enjoy it and as an old school goth it was not about what I define as vampires even in the loosest sense. I can allow for a lot of changes to myths, but I'm afraid I must draw the line at fundamental changes to the legend that cause vampires to sparkle.

I am however getting away from the point of this post. I made a bracelet in the pattern I showed off yesterday. I chose to do the filigree looking base in black and I made the rose in a deep red. I think it looks positively Gothic and lovely, but something else struck me as I was taking pictures of my creation. It occurred to me that fans of this Twilight business might love this piece as it is made in the colors that appear on the novels covers and in all the Twilight inspired items saturating etsy. I was very tempted to slap a twilight tag on the sucker and exploited its success.

I'm not going to though, I just can't do it. I'm certain that others have done it and will continue to jump on any band wagon that comes along, but the piece certainly wasn't inspired by the books or movie and it just doesn't seem right to say it was. I have had the same dilemma regarding the term Lolita. I see it a lot as a tag on etsy and I have a passing knowledge of the movement and even though I could guess that my pieces would fit in with a Lolita style, I don't know enough to say that with any confidence. I guess I am trying to avoid being regarded as a poseur by assuming where my work fits in. So if a sparkly vampire lover finds my bracelet and like it, great, but I'm not going to pretend it was made just for them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Accidents

I spent most of yesterday in a sickness induced malaise. I literally sat staring at the computer screen for no reason other than I had no energy to do anything else. I really wanted to get something new tatted, but I didn't start feeling better until early evening. At that point I did pick up my needle and started working on some antique patterns just to get moving again.

I started with an edging that was too tight to lay straight, then I did a small rose from the center of a medallion. I wasn't happy with either piece until I threw them on the table next to me and I saw what they wanted to become. I added a small section of matching clusters on either side of the piece and I had this great romantic Victorian bracelet pattern.

It's a nice change of pace from the dark Gothic look of my last project. I also determined that the design will translate well to a choker as well. I think I may make the final piece up in the ecru or perhaps a light pick or lavender instead of my signature black, though I'm certain it will look great in black as well.

While staring at the computer screen yesterday, I also received not one, but two blog awards. I feel like I need to find something new to say when these arrive besides the usual, since I've said the same thing so many times already. I remember the first time I saw one of these awards on someones blog. I thought that there was actually some authority awarding these to merit worthy blogs. Of course since then I've discovered that there are as many of these things as there are people with rudimentary graphics skills and a desire to acknowledge others. Since they are awarded in a chain letter fashion, they are not so much an award that recognizes your skill as they are a thank you from a single person. Since I only read a few blogs with any regularity, and I have no desire in inundate those same people with awards every time I get one, I shall let these ones die with me as well.

I do want to thank those you gave them to me however. Lenox Knits was awarded the "Uber Amazing Blog" award and passed it on to me as wel as a few others. Congrats Lenox and thanks for thinking of me. You can also visit her etsy store here. Perpetualplum received the "Marie Antoinette" award and she passed it on to me and six others. Congrats and thanks to her as well and you can find her etsy store here. Thanks so much guys, I'm so glad that you enjoy my nonsense.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Presenting The Tatted Throat Corset

Aargh...what a weekend. It started out with me and both of my daughters catching a cold bug. My husband remains unfairly healthy for the time being. This resulted in a less than restful weekend, yet I still managed to get a lot done. We went out of town to get our Holiday shopping all done and all the children in our lives are sufficiently spoiled. All that's left for us to do is pick up a few gift certificates and we're finished with shopping. The sad side effect of all this shopping is my shrinking paypal balance. No more impulse shopping for me I'm afraid.



The big news for the weekend is of course the completion of my most recent project, the tatted throat corset. I finally finished it up yesterday, slathered on a bit of makeup and got some pictures taken just before I lost the sunlight. In a rush to get feedback, I uploaded the pictures to flickr and posted them on twitter. This is the single greatest thing twitter has done for me. Instant feedback and views pour in just as soon as I post a link to something. While I'm still not perfectly settled on a price for the piece, I will get it listed today. Though it was just a repeating pattern, it was quite time consuming and I think the final piece reflects the time spent on it.

I also had a middle of the night project idea. Of course this was one of the many sickness induced wakings, so I'm not sure that the idea is sound yet. I think I figured out a way to make my tatted goggles work, if the idea wasn't just delirium. I plan on making a removable goggle cover of tatted lace. That way, I don't have to working about the glue and rivets that I know nothing about and stick to my skill set. Hopefully I get around to testing out the idea this week after I get a bit more sleep.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Tatted Neck Corset

The prototype is complete! After a few days of work and a rough patch at the end when I couldn't decide on keeping or tossing the top edging, I have completed the tatted neck or throat corset, clearly I haven't decided which to call it either. I took all the pictures on my mannequin head which had a ridiculously long neck, but I assure you it is comfortable and fits like a dream on my real human neck. I laced the ribbon directly through the rings and though the ribbon I used here was a bit thick for easy lacing, it worked better than expected.

I shall begin work on the final piece in black today, so there's a small chance I'll have it ready in time for Mondays post. It's going to be a busy weekend though, so don't hold me to it. Working on this piece has again given me a reason to love the twitter community. I asked for opinions on the top edging and was given many very quickly and my flickr saw quite a few more hits than usual as many more stopped by to see what on earth I was talking about.

I also got a note from the steamteam friend, Olorle who bought one of my prototype sale pieces. He had completely a gauntlet using the medallion. You can check out his creation on his blog, here: http://bruisedwonderland.blogspot.com . It's always great to see what is created when a new set of hands takes over. I also recently sold a necklace to another etsy seller who embellished it almost beyond recognition into an incredible steampunk inspired piece. The seller is suewoojewels.etsy.com and I was surprised when I found the piece listed as I was stalking the tatting. I had actually forgotten that when I sold the piece to her she had said she was going to embellish it. It reminded me that I still haven't decided on a medallion or edging for the my Tatting Challenge. I plan on having the next one after the holidays to take advantage of the down time, but I'm a little afraid everyone will have forgotten about it by then. i guess I'll just have to keep mentioning it so it stays on the brain.

One last thing for this Friday, I was tagged by another blogger. While you are probably aware that I do not play these tag games, I do like to acknowledge those you like my stuff enough to bother tagging me. This time it was thespottedsparrow. You can find her blog here: http://blog.spottedsparrow.com/. Maybe one day I'll feel it necessary to share random facts about myself, but I just can't get into the chain letter nature of this stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

From Locusts to Lemmings

Yesterday over at the twitter I witnessed quite the phenomenon. A new service to give you a numerical rank based on some secret formula regarding @replies and followers and whatnot was launched and like dominoes falling everyone in sight seemed to fall victim to curiosity and their twitteranks were tweeted into the world. At first the discussion centered on the usefulness of this number. What was a 'good' number and why do we even care? Then the focus began to shift and paranoia took over. Everyone was shouting phishing scam and changing their passwords and generally freaking out. I've since read a posting by its creator that explains his less than nefarious purpose, but even though it wasn't a social experiment, it certainly revealed much about public reactions and behaviours. Did I jump of the cliff with everyone else...yep I did. To quote from the most recent Hulk movie, 'I've always been more curious than cautious.'

I also did manage to get some tatting done as well. I finished and listed a set of earrings and pendant. This one was made from just the center of a medallion pattern and reminds me of gears. I think I'll make the set up in brown with brass finding for that more authentic steampunk look and I'm playing around with the idea of string gears together to form a scarf with the 'teeth' of the gears attached. Before I get around to that though I have an even more interesting project I'm working on.

I first heard about throat corsets from a steamteam friend who had used the name for a laced up choker and was shocked to get thousand of views. Once we all discovered what it actually was, I was determined to make a tatted one. I found some amazing ones on and off etsy, but I just couldn't seem to come up with the right pattern to make one that looked right. That was until yesterday, I was adapting a pattern from a one shuttle pattern ring only into needle tatting with rings and chains. My solution was to weave the chains together in a Celtic manner and the result was a strong thick braided look strip and I knew I had stumbled on the pattern for a neck corset. I'm still working it up in vintage ecru thread, otherwise known as my practice thread and the results are quite promising. I've only got a snippet to show you today, but I hope to have a prototype ready for tomorrows post. You can see the natural tapper of the design and it should fit comfortably around the neck and I'm still deciding whether it should lace like a 'real' corset or more simply like shoelaces. I'm sure the solution shall present itself as I get the final panels done.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shiny

I've got a new toy! Yesterday afternoon it arrived in a large and rather heavy box. I removed it from its box and waited for my live in computer tech to return to set up my brand new 24" imac. I finally got to play with it this morning and it is huge and shiny and fast. I really didn't think my G4 had aged that much until I started working on the new one and I inevitable thought back to my first apple computer that sits still completely functional on a shelf. It was a mac classic and it had less computing power than my phone and a screen that seems barely bigger than an ipod, but I love that old beige box because it helped me catch my mac geek husband.

The rest of yesterday was odd as well, no mail and my husband had the day off in the middle of the week. Of course we spent most of the day just waiting for my computer to be delivered. I did manage to find another pattern to adapt from my antique books. I made up a pendant and earring set I should get photographed and listed today. I got to play with really long picots, which is a difficult exercise. It takes a bit of practice to eyeball the length of the loop. I try to measure against my finger, but it's still guess work.

We also went to a movie with the family and then watched the new Futurama dvd...excuse me, blu ray. I laughed really hard until I realized that there was really only one segment of the population laughing this hysterically with me...geeks. Yep, I'm a geek. I'm a mac geek, a drama geek, a sci-fi fantasy geek and a rpg geek. I'm sure I left off a few, but you get the idea. I've tried so hard to climb up to the subcategory of geek known as freak. I've got the tattoos, the piercings, the crazy hair as well as the ability to communicate with normals, but I'm really just a geek. I guess that's enough of a confession for today. Hopefully I'll have some tatting to show off tomorrow and the rest of the week will get back to normal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Plague Of Locusts

Locusts are a bit understood as a whole. In a normal season these grasshoppers spend most of their lives where they were born, only leaving to find a mate. It is only when the weather conditions are just right that they breed unchecked and form a cloud of mass devouring that moves from field to field leaving nothing in its wake. Why am I telling you about locusts? Well, I made an observation yesterday that will lead us back so let me start there.

I was playing with Twitter yesterday. If you have not yet been pulled into its wake, like even my husband now has, let me explain a little something. You see, you can click on a random name someone you follow 'tweets' to and then click through the people they follow and continue into infinity if you so choose. I was doing this is an attempt to find more interesting people to follow. I was getting bored of the same tweets that I am guilty of, I just listed...I got a treasury...did you see that forum thread...etc. During the search I made the observation that I mentioned: Etsians are a plague of locusts.

Before I discovered Etsy, I was generally competent online, but it was merely a tool for information and entertainment. I did not interact with others online and I felt no need to do so. After I discovered the forums, I began participating in mass attacks on online social outlets that were deemed useful for promotion by the etsian collective. This led me to myspace, flickr, indipublic, blogging and now twitter. With each new site the same thing occurs, hundreds of etsians flock there expecting to find a new audience and then they end up talking to each other...again.

I'm certain that each new endeavour finds a few new people, but then the sheer number of etsians overwhelms the new audience. They are devoured and the etsians eventually begin to complain that they are selling to each other again and the next big thing to try will be 'discovered'. I have also noticed that each new generation of sellers starts a new plague cloud and the threads asking who's on myspace, flickr, etc reemerge and the onslaught begins again. I don't mean to diminish the usefulness of networking in general, clearly talking to others that share our passions and experiences is good, but it's not the best promotion especially en mass.

I will likely continue to run with the locusts, but at least I will move forward aware of the bigger picture. Sure it might be more productive to find my own way, but at least with the locusts I'll always be in familiar company.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Good Monday

A string of interesting things occurred after I wrote on Friday. As soon as I published the post I felt much better, I received a few, 'there, there's' from twitter folk and I got what I can only assume was a pity sale and that was all I really needed to get out of the self pity cycle. The weekend just took off from there. I did feel bad that I wrote such a whiny post, but occasionally I think we all need to vent and that was mine for quite a while, I imagine. Of course I cannot anticipate future events that might irritate me enough to vent, but I can assure you it will not be my sales or lack thereof.

No longer hampered by doubt, I listed my prototype starburst bracelet and it sold immediately. Of course I did list it ridiculously cheap, but still. Then I managed to finish and list a pair of earrings, the perfected bracelet and another necklace all adapted from the starburst pattern. I felt creative and productive and I think the positive activity in my store increased my visibility just enough to achieve my year-end goal of 3000 store hearts. I had intended to do a countdown to 3000 this week because I had assumed I would reach the goal a bit later, but I certainly can't complain.

I also made an impulse purchase this weekend. We visited the closing Circuit City store for a usb hub and I found myself drawn to the discounted cameras. My current camera was purchased with size in mind. I wanted a small camera that was light and fit in a bag, so I paid little attention to quality. It is in no sense a bad camera, but I have been wanting a better one for a while. I picked up a new Sony Cybershot H-50 at lovely price. I think it will be a while before I learn how to effectively use all the features of the camera, but I already love it. Now I need to make some new pieces so I have something to take pictures of. Though it did get a trial run at my nieces birthday party yesterday.

I shall have another new acquisition to share with you later this week as well, but I shall save that for when it actually arrives. I don't have any projects lined up for the week, so I'll just be playing it by ear from this point and hopefully I'll come up with a little something to test out my new camera with.

Friday, November 7, 2008

You Just Didn't Listen

I warned you all, didn't I? I said that if you piled on the sales and attention that when it inevitably stopped, I would be an emotional wreck. So what did you do? You gave me consistent sales and attention for nearly two months and then you took it all away. As quickly as it came it was gone, now I sit at the end of a two week period that saw two whole sales. The fall was so quick from so high that I find myself terribly bruised. Sure, I tried to maintain my calm. I wasn't going to fall into the trap of self doubt and start whining about sales. I ignored the subject entirely, hoping that the problem would fix itself, but as this week comes to an end I find myself wondering what I can do to reengage a buying public and what I did to scare everyone away in the first place.

I've spent probably a little too much time on twitter lately and though it has proved a wonderful community environment for feedback and general, entertaining nonsense, it's getting me nowhere as far as sales are concerned. I've spent far more than I ever thought shopping through my twitter contacts, but as my funds have dwindled, it's become clear that I need to stop until my sales return. Twitter has almost completely replaced the etsy forums for me, but I wonder if I should go back and see if my absence there is a cause of my lack of sales.

I wonder too, if perhaps my appeal was solely Halloween based and there is nothing I can do to encourage sales outside that niche. Oh well, I guess that is enough complaining for now. I think I've gotten it all out of my system now. I shall resolve to go back to creating and ignore my sales or lack thereof. I think I will create a sales section in the store today and see if that helps jump start sales or at least clear out some dead weight and I do have a protype bracelet to list today, crazy cheap, as the design still needs work. I did make a second one with some minor changes that I feel much better about and I'll list that one at regular price later as well. I still have a couple of other ideas for the starburst design to try out and then I need to come up with something that gets me as much attention as my tatted masks did. I'm coming up blank right now, so it might be a while on the last thing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New And News

Ah, back to tatting. I spent yesterday afternoon discovering a new design to exploit from those antique pattern books. I think I've found a good one and I've finished the first piece using it and I'm well into the second which will be far more dramatic as is my way.

I'm calling this piece 'Starburst' because of the small star shape in the center, but it began life as a pattern for a lunch cloth, whatever that is. I was looking far to hard for a ready made medallion when I noticed this shape within another pattern. The next piece will be a choker and I think I'll work on a gauntlet or bracelet as well.

In other news, the etsy steam team has been back from Steampowered for a few days, but they're still getting great publicity for the team along with making more regretful that I did not go. The newest is a mention in the Make magazine blog. The picture links to the article, so click away.All the members present for the photo got a store link and they clearly had more fun than I did last weekend, though trick or treating with the family was important too. I however am terribly jealous and I vow that the next event the team attends on this coast will find me present, even if I have to drag my family along with me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Brave New World

I have made it a point to not mention religion or politics here as it has absolutely nothing to do with tatting or creating in general, though I suppose it could fall under the heading of nonsense. I am however finding it hard this morning to not at least acknowledge what happened last night. I feel like I am standing at a moment in history that will not only stand as a great historic event but a defining moment for a generation. I know that I will be talking about this time with my children as they grow up and I am hopeful that this will help to shape a better world for them to live in. I've no illusion of instant change and perfect solutions, but often the first step is the hardest part of the journey and we are walking now.

Alright, I think I've gotten that out of my system. I hope that didn't annoy anyone, but this is my one outlet for expression. Other than all the election drama yesterday was quite mellow. I started work on a new custom order that is proving to be quite enjoyable. I have been charged with recreating the design of a lost favorite necklace. The original was not of course tatted, but I really enjoy the challenge of trying to replicate other mediums with rings and chains. It is a gift, I believe, so I won't share anymore until after the gift has been given just in case.

I have also tried out a couple of the antique patterns I talked about yesterday though nothing has gelled quite yet. Sometimes I just need to be patient and look beyond the pattern. It is also quite a bit more difficult to read theses old patterns. It appears that there was no uniform method for pattern writing and many of them must be read all the way through repeatedly even before you begin to understand them In fact without the pictures, I think it might be impossible to tat some of these designs. I think I will have to rewrite them if I ever plan on remaking any of them more than once.

Oh, once more thing for the day. I have been gifted with another blogging award. I have also recently been 'tagged'. While I have no intention of playing along because I really dislike the chain letter nature of these things, I feel it is only right to thank and acknowledge those who like my blog and/or work enough to give them to me. I really am humbled by any acknowledgment of my rambling and my tatting. So thanks Jewelstreet for the award, that was lovely of you. Please visit her blog and store, she does make wonderful jewelry. Thanks also to CatherinetteRings from the steam team for tagging me, the rings at this shop are just so wonderfully unique and interesting. I do feel a bit bad about not playing by the rules, but since there's nothing anyone can do about it, I respectfully decline.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something Old, Something New

I love old books. I love thinking about who else has held it in their hands and read its words. There is a sense of history that just cannot be conveyed in a pdf. This is why I keep buying old tatting booklets. I'm sure that I could find their pages scanned online, but it's just not the same. I just got four new ones so old they have no dates on them, though a little research has them dating to the turn of the century. As I sat down to pick new designs to reinvent, I realized that I am hard on books, very hard. I decided that it was in the best interest of the books that I scan them and print out the scans to use instead of using the actual books. My tech expert husband found me a nice pdf compiler for the project and I got my four new ones scanned in yesterday. Of course now I need to scan in my other ones, before there is nothing left of them to scan.

That was my something old for the day, my something new is goals for the etsy store. The last ones I set were 400 sales by the end of the year and 3000 hearts for the store. Well a spectacular October, spurred on by tatted masks no doubt, resulted in the early reaching of 400 sales. I was going to revise the goal to 500 by the end of the year, but then the sales all but stopped. Instead I shall revise it to a more attainable 450. The 3000 hearts was supposed to be a ridiculous number, but a few prominent front page stints resulted in short windfalls of them. I now stand just 50 or so shy of that goal. I remember when I was about to reach 1000, I joked that I didn't even know 1000 people. I had assumed that I had reached a saturation point where anyone who would like my thing enough to favorite them had already done so. I guess I was wrong then and I hope I keep finding new people to impress with my tatted pieces.

I hope to have a few new pieces in the next couple of weeks based on these amazing old designs and the store should soon fill back up with pieces returning from their Steampowered vacation this week. I'm still don't feel ready for the holidays, but I think after today's election is over I can shift into gear and get there.

Monday, November 3, 2008

At Least I Don't Have A Headache

I am finding myself in the hangover phase of endeavors both mundane and creative this morning. The Steampowered convention has wrapped up and even though I'm still waiting to find out whether I sold a single thing, it is all over and done with and outcome has been determined. My tatted Halloween costume has been worn and subsequently retired. I will probably remove the tatting from the corset and add it to a nicer one I just bought. On the mundane front, I have finally had all my doctor's appointments for the year from teeth to eyes and there are no big events on the horizon except birthdays that have already been shopped for. I have no new magazine articles waiting to come out or features coming up. I imagine that after tomorrow, I will experience an election hangover as well.

Though I don't have anything new for the store, I am working on a custom caplet order based on my Victorian Lace collar. It is proving to be a little more challenging than I thought to increase the diameter without changing the pattern. It's working out okay, but I'm having to resort to math which I do not enjoy. I should be done today, barring any unforeseen disasters.

While, I'm not loving this picture, I promised that I would share my tatted Halloween costume with you today, so here it is. A better shot is the picture of the family after we had returned from trick or treating. We had blissfully clear weather for the evening after it rained off and on all day. The kids had a great time and people seemed shocked to find me and my husband dressed up as most parents seemed to hand out on the sidewalk while the kids went to the houses. I figure there are so few opportunities for us to play dress up, that we ought to take advantage of every one. Well I think that's it for this Monday. Hopefully the hangover will be short and I'll find some great things to work on soon.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

So much to do, so little time to do it in. Halloween is not only a festive event for my family, it is also my Mother's birthday and tomorrow is my brothers birthday, so Happy Birthday Mom, happy Birthday Matt. Of course, I don't think either of them reads my blog, but I still feel it's only right to say it. The kids will want to dress up most of the day and we will visit Daddy's work for a little pre-trick or treating. It's a good thing too because here in central California, it is supposed to rain all day and I don't know whether will get to go out tonight at all. I just can't justify taking a 1 and 4 year old out into the rain to get free candy. Hopefully they are still young enough to get over the disappointment.

I don't yet have any costume pictures for you so I thought I would post a picture of me and the girls from last Halloween morning. So much has changed in the space of a year, the baby is a toddler, the toddler is a 'big' kid, not to mention my drastic hair makeover. I promise that I will have pictures of my tatted costume for you on Monday.

I'm just finishing up a pair of tatted cuffs right now. I realized after I got my copy of Belle Armoire with the cuff pattern, that I didn't have any currently listed and that looked a little off. I still don't know what my next new project is going to be. Should I keep playing with the wool yarn and hope people are in a scarf wearing mood or is it time for a new choker pattern. I'm sure I'll figure it out. Oh, speaking of tatted scarfs, the pattern I listed has been viewed literally hundreds of times. I hope all you free tatted pattern folk share the results with me. Seriously, I would love to do a post of random pieces made with my pattern, so do share!

Happy Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows Eve and since I won't be back until Monday, Day of the Dead, All Souls Day and All Saints Day and any other harvest or fall holiday I may have missed!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Slowest Week EVER

This has been the slowest moving week in recent memory. Maybe it's because I'm getting so much press lately coupled with no sales, maybe it's because my favorite holiday is sitting at the end of the week or maybe it's because I'm all nervous about my things being sold in person at SteamPowered even though I won't actually be there. I'm sure it's a motley combination of all these things, but I feel like the weekend should already be here. Let me back up a bit though and explain the press comment.

The week started out with me receiving my artist comp copy of Belle Armoire. My most recent article contains a pattern for my tatted cuffs and I got all giddy when my article had a cover mention. The cover art was from Bonzie, also of etsy fame. Then after I published my free tatted scarf pattern, it was picked up by the needlework editor of CraftGossip which sent me a little extra blog traffic. Then last night I was informed that I was the featured etsy shop on Fashion Me Fabulous. I thought that was plenty, but this morning I got a message that one of my tatted masks was featured on Rare Bird Finds. What makes all of these mentions so great, is I did not know about any of them except of course Belle Armoire. They were complete, pleasant surprises and I'm quite shocked at the convergence of so many fortuitous events.

I was going to complain about the lack of sales as well as how nervous I am about the afore mentioned convention, but I've decided to accept the trade off for the unexpected attention. I do have a funny little story to tell today though, an anecdote if you will. I found myself sitting in the dentists office yesterday for a half an hour. I reached into by bad to pull out my tatting needle and thread only to discover that while the small ball of thread was present, the needle was not. I decided that since the ball was small enough to act as a make shift shuttle, that I would again attempt to shuttle tat. The result of this was a string of sadly formed rings and a not so subtle reminder of why I am a confirmed needle tatter. The moral of this little tale is that while I receive a occasional accolade for my tatting skill, I have so much more to learn. When people tell me that they could never do what I do, I just think that there are probably many things they can do that I cannot. I will still try to 'get' shuttle tatting and eventually I might succeed, but for now I will stick with what I'm good at.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nothing Of Consequence

It another of those mornings. I've nothing of consequence to share with you. I've been spending a little too much time shopping through Twitter. I downloaded a desktop widget called Tweetdeck that keeps Twitter in the background all the time so I seem to always be eavesdropping on some conversation or other. I also keep clicking on links for new listings and sales, it's a nasty habit that I need to squelch at least until my sales pick back up. It is so much harder to justify shopping when no one is buying from me.

I know it seems as if I've been busy since I actually listed two new pieces in as many days, but I had been working on those pieces slowly, off and on for a very long time and just finally finished them. I've been a little uninspired as of late and I'm finding it hard to get motivated to create. Perhaps it's just the letdown after sending so many pieces to the SteamPowered convention that kicks off this Friday, I don't really know.

Speaking of Friday though, I pretty proud of myself. Yesterday after a failed search for instructions on how to make a bustle for my costume, I figured one out all by myself. All I seemed to find in my search were wedding dress modifications, overly complex patterns with poor explanations and sad d.i.y. pieces with less than stellar results. My solution was a piece of leftover fabric gathered and tucked under my corset and it looks perfect. Now, hopefully the rain that is predicted for Halloween will not arrive and I'll actually have a reason to wear the costume to take the kids trick or treating. I promise, I'll share pictures if it turns out alright.