Thursday, January 16, 2014


Likely if you're savvy enough to be reading blogs right now, you know about Pinterest. While I'm definitely not one of those users who sets (or even follows many) trends and has thousands of pins or followers, I still totally love Pinterest. I created my personal account way back in 2010 when you had to get an invitation or get on a waiting list to get an account. I loved it for the simple fact that you could visually tag websites and it would lead you right back to the full how-to, or where to buy, or what was that thing I loved? Pre-Pinterest, I was always saving lists of bookmarked websites which later made no sense because they weren't neatly categorized, or saving images with no idea where they came from, or even trying to put web addresses in the names of the images so I could go back was sort of a mess. So when this super simple layout and tagging system came along, I was ALL for it.

So yesterday when I was referencing something I'd pinned, a little thing popped up for "Pinterest for Business." And I was intrigued. Lately I've been pinning a bunch of tutorials about how to improve my photography - I'm actually in the middle of a three week course through my alma mater right now that I might get around to recapping sometime - and I thought, well, that would make a lot of sense to file under "business." It would also be a perfect place to pin all of the listings from my shop so that one of those taste-makers can find me, pin me, go viral, get orders from celebrities, get famous, retire early lol. You know, the usual.

I set about creating a few boards that really spoke to where I am right now as an Etsy shop owner: pins of my listings, a board I created about craft fair booth set up, nuts and bolts of photography, props and things to complement my hopefully soon-to-be-improved photography skills, and research for new ideas to develop for my shop in the knits off season this spring.

So if you're interested into a little peek like that into the brain of a shop owner, you can follow me here: I already followed a few of my favorite people yesterday, so some of you will find that familiar! I'll still have my personal boards where I'll pin all the usual stuff like what in the world to make for dinner, and how to make my yard look less junky, but I'm aiming to keep all the shop stuff together here. You can also theoretically follow me from the button on my sidebar, provided I set it up properly. Even though I checked it....I never can quite tell!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Once upon a time....

We wanted to mount the tv on the wall. For normal people, this should take what, an hour? For us? 5 days. Yep, pretty standard stuff.

To my husband's credit, I will say that I think it looks great and he did an awesome job. But I just have to laugh and shake my head, because I know it's ALWAYS going to be a bigger job than it was supposed to be!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

So do something about it then

So in yesterday's post, I was hyperbolically complaining about the cold like so many of us do in these ridiculous-even-for-winter weather conditions, just generally trying to be funny. But then I went to wrap it up with the realization that, uh, not only do I not actually have to go outside in said cold for more than about a minute per day, but I have more than sufficient means to keep warm. Which then made me feel like a total whiny....well, a-hole.

Rather than delete the whole thing, I decided to make it a self-teachable moment. I immediately looked up a local charity that I actually volunteered for in the food pantry several years back - to get my architectural license I logged about 80 hours of community service. Isn't that funny that it's a requirement for a professional license? I don't know the details of WHY it's required, but I kind of liked it. It seems like unless you are part of a religious organization, which I am not, many of us fall out of any kind of volunteerism as adults, so it was a nice push. Anyway, I saw that they give clothing right to the people who need it, which is exactly what I was looking for. I often give to Goodwill, but I feel like they just resell donated goods and use the profits to help people - which is great, but I have a perfectly good down jacket that right now could be much more useful on someone's back than as cash in pocket, you know?

Pardon creepy dog-flash-eyes. He can't resist something soft on the floor.

So yeah, I found a coat from college that is super warm that I forgot I even HAD, so clearly, I don't need it. I also found a bunch of hats, scarves and mittens that are in great shape that I just don't wear.

I even found one of my very first crochet projects, a VERY unfortunately colored blanket. It's hideous, and I must have run out of purple so I decided that neon would be the perfect thing to make it longer? Good lord, I have no idea. BUT, it's actually seamed together pretty sturdily and it's quite soft. May as well give it a shot at some use rather than hiding out in ugly shame under my bed, along with a couple sweatshirts that haven't seen much action.

So yeah, I don't know. I didn't sit down to do resolutions, but don't be a jerk whiner and help others seems like a pretty adequate goal for life in general. I'll be dropping off these 3 bags of warmth tonight, and meanwhile trying to complain about my first world problems a little less.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What the "polar vortex" means to me

It's cold and it's dark, and there is precious little that makes me think that prying myself from my warm bed is a viable idea. And this is despite investing in a programmable thermostat that warms the house up to a tolerable temperature and a sunrise alarm clock that is supposed to trick me into thinking that there might be something worth seeing. Oh no self, you can't outsmart me. I know that the blanket fort is where it's AT.

On my day off this week I rearranged the furniture in my living room to resemble a giant couch-bed and piled it high with blankets while decked out in my snuggliest fleece. I considered this a perfectly reasonable way to spend the day.

At any given time, I might be wearing 2-3 full outfits simultaneously. No, I don't pick out my work clothes this time of year based on what might look cute. I choose my pants based on which ones have enough extra room to fit my under armor running tights and still button. Which in itself is laughable, because I don't run, and I sure as h*ll don't run when it's cold!!

I don't tend to dress in bright colors. I know that probably there is some psychology that says that seeing bright, cheerful colors boosts one's outlook....but again, I'm too smart for that nonsense, self. You might be able to get away with that in springtime, when it might actually warm up to a reasonable temperature in the foreseeable future. But now? It's January. The BEGINNING of January. I know that this is only the beginning, and therefore I prefer to tuck in and pile on as much clothing as possible, most of which is black....gray....charcoal if I'm feeling crazy/it happens to be a thick sweater. Maybe the dark colors remind me of still being asleep? Warm in my bed? Which is my favorite thing lol.

I also begin to seriously regret not knitting more for myself. I would love to have a good pair of wool socks and a super cozy oversized grannyish sweater. Instead I just put on as many thin Old Navy sweaters as I can get away with and make a mental note to spend time this summer knitting for ME. Yes, it might be somewhat unpleasant if it's 80 degrees....but the payoff will be worth it!

I begin to think crazy skewed thoughts when facing a high of -10 with windchills around, oh, -50. Thoughts like oh, it's going to get up to 10 degrees today! Above zero! That sounds not so bad! And what's that you say? Almost UP to freezing this weekend? Huh, might as well chuck the hats and play outside!

Mostly though, I keep these thoughts to myself and thank my lucky stars that I don't actually HAVE to spend any time outside. It also gives me the thought to clear out that basket of "just in case I need it" winter stuff like hats and gloves that I don't really wear, and get myself to the nearest shelter. Like tonight.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Year End Thoughts

I've taken an unintentional break from the internet these past few weeks. It was an unusually busy end of year at work, with a huge design effort culminating in back to back week trips (one 2 days, the other a sort of massive 4 days....the week before Christmas). Most years it seems that projects kind of wind down before the holidays and end of year because there simply aren't the people around to pay them proper attention on the clients' side due to travel and vacations and such, so deadlines simply get set for sometime in January. But this year that was not the case, so that alone has me feeling a bit turned around. I mean....I had to have my husband address our Christmas cards! I did the list for him, but now in hindsight I can think of a handful of people I would have added had I been doing them myself, but you just have to do what you can do and let the rest go sometimes.

On top of the sort of odd frenzy at work, my little shop has had sort of an incredible year! I felt like I was a knitting machine these past few weeks (which has me thinking a bit how I'll want to differently handle next year's holiday season), and I finally had a chance to look at the numbers while I found myself awake at a sort of ungodly hour. I ended up sending out 17 hand knit or crochet goodies from November to beginning of December, plus another 2.5 on deck. (For fun, this compares to just 6 orders last year plus another 3 that came in just after the holidays through the end of January, with roughly the same non-existent level of marketing.) At one point earlier this month I was actually feeling simultaneously thrilled and a bit sick at the thought of it that I actually backed out of a craft fair I was supposed to do back on December 7, which is SO not like me. (Oh man, that actually reminds me that I didn't even include craft fair numbers in that count!) I set an order deadline for the shop to promise orders by Christmas and then I kept a close eye on the posted ship dates for USPS to deliver by Christmas Eve. Thank goodness they didn't seem to have the delivery issues that UPS and FedEx reported this year! In a fashion that is again, seriously unlike me, I found myself flying off to the post office minutes before they closed on multiple days before Christmas to get packages out on time. I even had to go so far to have to express just one of two pairs of legwarmers to my cousin, which would account for the "half" order on deck. I feel terrible about that, but I guess in trying to make the best of it I can adjust the fit of the second pair if needed, and there will certainly be some extra goodies in the second package for her little girl!

I had a hard time falling asleep last night as well, with tons of post ideas rolling around in my head, most of which I of course cannot remember now. One of them was definitely how I'd like to change up my shop process for next year. For starters, I think I need to pre-make some of my more popular items. While I definitely like the option for people to pick and choose their color and size, and will continue to offer that option, I bet I could take a little pressure off myself by examining the trends so far. The cottage slipper socks were definitely my most popular item both this year and last, and the colors trended sort of the same way as well - mostly the oatmeal color that's pictured as well as charcoal gray, and mostly size medium. They are probably the most expensive item in my shop on my end in terms of materials, which has always stopped me from keeping them in stock, but now that they've sold pretty steadily for two seasons, I'd be ok making up a few pairs in advance.

Last year I sold several of the long tail elf hats, but only a few this year via Etsy - I sold a few more at craft shows. Those are pretty low impact to make up ahead though, and I feel like the color options are more limited for the "standard" item - mainly reds and greens for Christmas colors, and it wouldn't hurt to have some newborn sizes in pink and blue around as well.

Toddler mittens were sort of a whim for me - basically I toyed around with a few different designs because I needed some, and listed them on the site for kicks. They've been flying! It sort of boggles my mind that people don't seem hesitant to pay $18 for kid's mittens, but that's a fairly middling price compared to others I've seen around on Etsy. There also doesn't seem to be a ton in the standard chain stores (from my super limited search) for an every day mitten that isn't the hardcore, playing in the snow for hours, enormous puffy deal. Definitely a time and place for those, but the run to daycare really isn't it. So while these are more time intensive than the elf hats, they've been pretty solid and are lower in cost for materials as I can make several pairs from a single ball or skein of yarn, that's another one I think I would consider keeping in stock. Especially since I had to turn down an inquiry for a bulk order! That one bummed me out, because I'd have loved to help this person out....there was just no way to do it before the end of the year. It's just me over here! As much as I enjoy knitting and this brave new retail world, I can't let myself take on too much to the detriment of my family life.

To sort of spin off that last line...I'm a little jealous of all of my customers! I have some generously gifted sock yarn just sitting in my disaster of a craft room/ office/ let's face it, it's the cat's room that I would love to turn into socks for myself...but the time just isn't there! Standard socks....while they are seemingly a staple for many knitters, they've always intimidated me. I'm not exactly sure why! I make the slipper socks, so I probably know all the techniques. But the yarn and needles I use for that are many times larger than those for real socks that are actually meant to fit inside shoes lol. I guess I worry that when working with such small tools that it won't feel like I ever make any progress? I definitely enjoy knitting as a hobby, but lately life has been all about deadlines, so the thought of knitting on a longer turn around is a little scandalous to me!

In addition to my apparently guilty pleasure, personal sock knitting, I have at LEAST 2 other things I'd like to make for my nearest and new ideas for the shop. I've got my sister testing out a new product, er, Christmas earwarmer headband thing. I made a few earlier this year that I wasn't happy with, and whipped out this new one just in time for Christmas. Literally...I mean like hours before I gave it to her! Given that amount of development, I'm not ready to list it yet, so I'll have to see what she thinks. Always trust little sisters to give you true, honest feedback! Plus I want to develop a shorter, slip-on slipper. I LOVE my tall slippers, but they really only work with leggings, skinny jeans/jeggings, or tights. I want more of an every day deal to leave lying by the back door that I can put on when I get home from work with normal pants. Bonus to self - I would get to keep the samples for myself! I also have a charity hat to knit (that I was supposed to have done by December 16! Ouch!) that will really move to the very top of my list after my paid orders are out the door. More than I need a nice pair of socks....a warm hat for someone in need is certainly more important this winter. So with that....since sleep doesn't look likely and who has time for to knitting!