Tuesday 29 June 2010

New Felt Colours!

I've got some exciting news today - after much making of colour charts, photographing of colours and website tinkering, there are lots of new felt colours now available from my felt shop!

I've got five "new" shades of wool blend felt - emerald green, moss, mint green, midnight and ruby red:
The eagle eyed felt lovers amongst you may have spotted some of these colours in my colour packs, but this is the first time they've been available as part of my "pick your own colours" listings thanks to this shiny new colour chart featuring all 65 colours:

PLUS, I've got a whole new range of felt colours - 35 shades of acrylic felt.

I know synthetic felt can be a bit rubbish but this felt is great quality, I use it in a lot of my projects. It's stiffer than the wool blend felt so it's great for designs that need a bit of structure, and it cuts very "clean" with little fraying or fluffing at the edges so it's perfect for cutting out tiny pieces. There are also some very interesting colours in the range, like the neon pink and mustard.

One of my long term plans is to develop a range of patterns, and as part of this plan I really wanted to have all the materials I use available on my website instead of having all the fuss of putting together kits ... The patterns themselves are still on the "to do" list (waiting for when I can magically find the time!) but in the meantime expect to see these new shades popping up in lots of tutorials here on the blog :)

Rainbow packs of all 35 colours will be available from all my shops (they're currently listed on my website and in my Etsy shop) but the "pick and mix" selections will only be available on my website.

Monday 28 June 2010

Vintage Trays

One of my lovely blog readers asked for a closer look at the tray buried under lots of felt in yesterday's post... and I'm happy to oblige :) I use these two trays a lot when I'm sewing, along with a much less stylish assortment of upturned box lids. They're small, portable workspaces that I can easily tidy away in time for dinner or sit next to me on the sofa in the evenings, and they're totally invaluable when it comes to cutting out lots of tiny pieces of felt.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Summer afternoons

The weather has been amazing here this week. I've been getting admin and housework done early in the morning when it's a bit cooler, and then spending my afternoons lazily sewing & listening to the radio or a nice bit of Agatha Christie...

... with a break for an ice lolly mid afternoon instead of my usual tea break. You know it's hot when I stop drinking tea!

Thursday 24 June 2010

Crafty Boxes

I treated myself to some cute cupcake-y boxes this week to house my ever-expanding stash of crafty things...

... that big pink one is HUGE but I'm sure it won't be long before it's overflowing!

I do like a nice "storage solution" and it's so much easier to keep my craft shelves tidy when everything is tucked away neatly in pretty boxes instead of piled about the place in heaps that topple over at inconvenient moments, or stashed in an assortment of old shoe boxes.

And, of course, now I've got space for even more crafty goodness... hurrah!

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Tea with the Queen

We had rather an exciting day out yesterday - attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace!

The boyfriend got an invite to one of this year's royal garden parties because of his job, and I got to tag along too :)

We were picked up in the morning by the civic car, along with another couple, and were driven down to London (stopping for lunch on the way). Unfortunately cameras aren't allowed inside the palace grounds but we took a few photos outside before queuing up outside the gates with our passports and tickets at the ready.

I spent the whole day being totally entranced by what everyone was wearing. So many fancy hats and lovely dresses (this dress was particularly popular!), and lots of people were in uniform or national costume and lots of the men were wearing top hats. Needless to say it was the most posh party I've ever been to...

As you can probably tell from the photos, the weather was fantastic. We had a delicious afternoon tea (with mini cucumber sandwiches, little pastries and cakes, and chocolates with little gold crowns on them) and had a lovely time exploring the gardens. I didn't see the Queen and the other royals in attendance but the others saw her leaving.

There's a nice video about the garden parties here though it doesn't show my favourite feature - a wonderfully quirky 15 foot (5 metre) high urn that sits in the rose garden. Every garden should have a giant urn!

I'm busy catching up on emails etc now after my day off - being my own boss makes it much easier to take a day off in the middle of the week, but gosh my inbox fills up quickly when left unattended...

Saturday 19 June 2010

Etsy Old Timers

Yesterday was Etsy's fifth birthday! Discovering Etsy and the online craft community at the end of 2006 and deciding to set up my own Etsy shop quite literally changed my life. I'm now self-employed (with a house full of felt) and I get to make stuff for a living!

Etsy has seen lots of ups and downs, lots of changes and has grown hugely since I first set up shop... Back in Feb 2009 I blogged about finding an old piece of paper on which I'd scribbled down the details of some of Etsy's categories as I was trying to get to grips with how the site worked. It amazed me how much the site had grown in a couple of years, and it's now even bigger:

Geekery - THEN 3,558 items - LAST YEAR 17,165 - NOW 41,859
Books and Zines > Zine - THEN 295 - LAST YEAR 1,318 - NOW 2,306
Housewares > Kitchen - THEN 3,564 - LAST YEAR 23,385 - NOW 49,069
Accessories > Pin - THEN 4,443 - LAST YEAR 24,969 - NOW 27,968
Needlecraft > Pincushion - THEN 400 - LAST YEAR 3,241 - NOW 4,353

Oh and last year there were 827, 839 items listed under jewellery... today there are 1,429,890! Wow.

I'm starting to have conversations about Etsy that start "in the old days..." like some nostalgic little old lady! Rather appropriately I've recently been invited to join the Old Time Etsy Team which is made up of people who've had shops on Etsy for 3+ years.

There's a little interview with me over on the team's blog this week: you can read it HERE.

Friday 18 June 2010

Blogging Tips for Etsy Sellers

Last year I enthusiastically announced I was going to be writing a whole series of "online selling" guides (aimed at people selling their work via Etsy, Folksy, DaWanda, etc). I wrote one blog post about it, then the demands of running my own business took over and I had never found the time to continue it. Not my finest hour...

I'd love to complete a sellers guide eventually (perhaps when scientists discover an 8th day of the week!) but in the meantime I'm going to do some very occasional posts based on the selling tips I did actually manage to get written.

First up: some blogging tips! I first wrote these with Etsy sellers in mind, based on things I've learned from 3 years of blogging and reading other sellers' blogs, but I think they apply to any designers/artists/crafters who blog. Please do add your own tips in the comments!


1) Don’t just write about your shop (or just about Etsy). Yes you want to sell stuff and promote your work and yes Etsy is super awesome and there are a million super products on here to mention… but my gosh it can get dull reading about it over and over!

If all you do is write about “here’s my new necklace” or “here’s a treasury I made on Etsy” or “here are some green things I like on Etsy” the only visitors you’ll get is from Etsy sellers Googling themselves! (And maybe your mum. My mum loves my blog).

2) Share your process – I love reading about peoples works in progress, their new designs, successes, etc but it’s also interesting to see peoples workspaces, new supplies, inspirations (a vintage plate with a great pattern, a walk you took in the local woods) and other snippets from peoples artistic lives. You don’t have to get really personal or give away any secrets, but show the person behind the stuff!

3) Get involved with the blogging community – read other blogs and learn from them, comment on blogs, link to the ones you like, make those connections. You’ll not only become a better blogger in the process, and connect with some amazing creative people, but blogs thrive on links and the internet equivalent of word-of-mouth promotion.

4) Use freebies wisely. I do giveaways on my blog, but I don’t think of them as a way to drive traffic to my blog but as a little gift for my regular readers. If you’re giving away something awesome enough then a giveaway can be a good promotional tool, but you still have to have a way of keeping those visitors on your blog when they click through to try to get something for free. If you don’t have interesting content, you’ll just be giving something away to a stranger and getting nothing in return.

Another popular freebie in the craft world is the tutorial. I love writing tutorials, and I know lots of my readers are crafty and enjoy them. I’ve had some great traffic with tutorials on my blog and gained lots more readers through them, but don’t give away your trade secrets just for the sake of a few extra hits! I normally try to do simple projects or ones which relate to the crafting I do for fun.

5) Blog regularly. You don’t have to become a blogging addict like me, but it’s much better to, blog once a week than three times in one week and then not for a fortnight. Most blogging platforms will allow you to "schedule" posts so if you can only find time to blog once a week you can write several short posts and schedule them to be published throughout the week.

6) Keep it short. Long, wordy blog posts without lots of pictures can be a pain to read and unless you’re posting about something really special most people won’t bother. Break up long paragraphs with white space to make text easier to read, and add as many pictures as possible! I started blogging a lot when I did a “crafting 365” project, making something everyday and taking a picture, and taking regular quick snaps for my blog has really helped improve my photography (which in turn helps my shop). And yes I know this point is very ironic given how long and wordy this particular blog post is! :)

7) Keep it professional. Remember that if you’re blogging, and connecting that blog to your business that your posts may be read by potential customers or stockists or even employers. Ranting about that bitch who stole your idea or your horrible boss etc might not be the best idea, especially living in an age when everyone Googles themselves!

And finally….

8) If you don’t enjoy it, try something else. If you hate blogging you won’t update your blog or give it any love and attention and it will sit gathering dust with no-one reading it… so you might as well use your energy on something that suits you better. Perhaps writing a great monthly newsletter? or joining Twitter or Facebook to promote your work. Or just concentrate on making awesome things to update your shop!


P.S. talking about blogging - I've given my blog a revamp this week thanks to Blogger's lovely new design options... hope you like it!

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Wedding Flowers

Another kind of show and tell today, this time featuring a batch of felt flowers I made as a custom order for a wedding earlier this year.

I was thrilled to get a follow-up email from the buyer this week, with lots of gorgeous photos from the wedding...

Seeing these pics really made me smile, the wedding looks so lovely and I'm so delighted that my work played a part in such a great occasion. Honestly it makes me want to develop a whole wedding range!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Show and Tell, part five

One of the very best things about selling craft supplies is getting to see what my customers have made with their purchases. I send out parcels of felt and other crafty bits and pieces, and they turn into all this lovely stuff! Magic.

Lynn of Tialys has been making lots of textile artworks with a French theme, using my mini embroidery hoops as frames:

Laura Belton used the felt she bought to make a zombie and an adorable plush Totoro:

Sarah of Ditsy Bird Designs put a pack of embroidery thread to good use embroidering some fun fabric brooches:

And Laura of LAMdesigns used some of my pastel felt to make a whole rainbow of cute button needlebooks:

You can read all the show and tell posts here. Want to show off what you've been making? Get in touch!

P.S. please respect the work of my customers as you do mine, and don't copy their designs :)

Monday 14 June 2010

A Knitters Picnic

It was World Wide Knit in Public Day on Saturday, and our knitting club had a picnic to celebrate.

We were really lucky to have great weather for it and spent many happy hours knitting and meeting all the people who had heard about the event and come along to join in. The local radio station popped by to interview us, the local paper took some photos and some lovely people from a local cafe came along and served free teapigs tea for all us thirsty knitters (so yummy!).

Lots of passers by came over to chat to us, too, and I think we're going to feature in the photo albums of lots of the tourists visiting Gloucester Cathedral that day!

(Many thanks to Esther, who took the photos)

Sunday 13 June 2010

Birthday giveaway - results

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my special birthday giveaway - and an extra special thanks for all your birthday wishes! :)

The winner was picked at random, and is Patricia who said... "OMG!!! Happy Birthday!!! I think I had already told you but it doesn´t hurt to say that again!!! This is an awesome lot!!! I´d be more than happy to win it and keep it to myself and my little girls! Thanks!"


Things have been a bit quiet here on the blog lately, hope you haven't missed me too much, heehee. I've got lots of fun posts planned for this week to make up for it!

Monday 7 June 2010

An English country garden

I've been getting some inspiration from my neighbours' lovely gardens this week - the abundance of flowers has got me daydreaming about colours and musing on possible floral designs for the future.

Do you have a favourite flower? Mine changes a lot, but I'm particularly loving foxgloves at the moment...

Taking that last photo reminded me that I tried to make a honeysuckle brooch a couple of years ago, made a list of possible improvements for attempt #2 and then forgot all about it! This sort of thing happens to me a lot. I must add "honeysuckle" to my (rather long) making list...

Saturday 5 June 2010

Birthday Giveaway

As promised, I'm having a giveaway to celebrate my birthday...

One lucky person will win this lot:

A bow brooch, a primrose brooch, a plush birdie brooch, an oak leaf brooch, a star rosette brooch and a lovely 100% wool felt flower hair comb. Keep them for yourself, or give them as gifts to all your felt-loving friends!

As always, I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Just leave a comment before midnight BST (British Summer Time) on Saturday 12th June on this post and I'll pick a winner at random on Sunday (13th June).

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and be sure to come back next Sunday to see if you got picked :)

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed!

Thursday 3 June 2010

Knit Knit Knit

Knitting continues to dominate my "spare time" crafting at the moment. The boyfriend even bought me a knitting bag for my birthday! It's the perfect size for carrying loads of "on the go" projects, spare balls of yarn and the big knitting book my mum bought me:

Our knitting group has decided to knit blanket squares for a charity project. I'm hoping to try out some "proper" patterns soon like this cute hat pattern (modelled by the youngest member of our knitting group!)...

... but in the meantime the blanket squares are keeping me busy! I've been knitting in the Post Office (it makes queuing much less dull) and curling up with a square in front of the telly in the evenings. I've discovered I can even knit them while watching the subtitles on the Swedish version of Wallander - hurrah.

We've received lots of balls of donated yarn for our blanket square project, including some of this fancy stuff...

... I've not knitted with that kind of yarn before, so it was really fun to try it out.

It was surprisingly easy to knit with, and hides mistakes wonderfully amongst all that fluff, but goodness knows how you count how many rows you've done!

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Birthday Treats

It's my birthday! Woohoo!

To share the birthday love I'm having a special 24 hour sale in all my shops: 10% off ALL items in any of my shops (excludes shipping). Please pay as normal and I'll refund the 10% via Paypal. Sale ends 2nd June at midday (British Summer Time).

UPDATE: the sale has now finished.

I'll also be having some special birthday giveaways here on the blog this week :)