Saturday, 31 May 2008

Doing what I can

I haven't got much done lately, with being sick and sore and stressed and grumpy. I've started making the scarf that I've been asked to make by my friend (the word 'commission' is still pretty scary) and it's about 1/3 done. I have a slight lack-of-fluffiness issue, but that can easily be solved with a quick trip to Spotlight or Lincraft. I'm getting a bit bored with crochet though. My last 3 fibre projects have been crocheted, as well as my toys. I think that when I've finished the last scarf and the cat blanket, I'll try and do some knitting for a while. I have some large knitted swatches that I didn't know what to do with, and I think I can make them the bases for some log-cabin style cat blankets, or perhaps sew them together (though the sewing needle is the devil, remember). Meanwhile, I dig through my stash for purple and pink yarn. I actually enjoy that. The colours, the fondling.... mmmmmm!

Today I went to the Magnolia Square craft market at the Malvern Town Hall. Don't get too excited - it was the last day. I cleverly implemented an extreme money-saving strategy of forgetting to bring my eftpos and credit cards, or any cash. $&%@*(#&%(!!! But as it turned out, there was a lot to see and not much to do. (Or buy). There were a few pretty, shabby chic, cutesy things there, but it was pretty obviously geared towards the yummy mummy, Toorak tractor, power-pram-wielding set. I did see some naive paintings and stuffies that were cool, the sorts of things that I aspire to make. By far the best part was seeing the stall of The Lark and 3 Buttons and meeting Lark, who I recognise from blog-land. (Well, her crafty stuff, anyway!) I instantly went from feeling creatively and entrepeneurially inadequate, not to mention dumb for leaving all my money at home, to feeling connected and validated. We talked about blogging and stuff and she asked my handle and said she'd heard of my blog! I was pretty much dumbfounded. Wow! She gave me a tip off about a new market - Sisters Market in Brunswick. Thank you! And thanks for the chat, too.

The second best part was having chilli pork bento boxes at Kim Chi Bowl (the lovely, wonderful Boy paid) and then ice creams from Cold Rock. Then we went home for a nanna nap.
What a lovely afternoon!

Later, I took my newest Swirly Series ACEOs out of the flower press, and they're as flat as they're gonna get. So I chose 4 to put on my shop. I'm up to 35 items already! Huh, easy! I'm loving this making things in batches stuff.

I'll leave you with my very first Flickr Mosaic! I searched the 'softies' tag to find these pics. Unfortunately the mosaic came out unbelievably large, and some resolution was lost in the reducing. Still pretty cute though.

Photo Credits:
1. plushies-make me a cat swap, 2. Day 3 - Mario Felt Plushies, 3. plushies, 4. plushies, 5. plushies all in a pile, 6. Pac Man Ghost plushies, 7. plushies added to our shop!, 8. kitten plushies, 9. More plushies!!, 10. Lined up plushies, 11. lamb plushies, 12. Day Out plushies, 13. Tofu Plushies, 14. . plushies, 15. Pikmin plushies, 16. Robot Parade 14: GAIENT BOT

Now off to work crochet. :)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

I've found heaven

The other day I was cruising on Ravelry and found a reference in another Melbourne knitter's profile to the Yarn Barn. It's in Coburg. It's amazing. I went on a special trip there this morning and I came away with these:

Gurgly goodness.

Just like the website says, "you won't leave the store empty-handed". It is So. True.
I got about 4 balls of pure wool, the same of wool blends, and 3 cones of special blends (3 for $10!). They had a tub full of vintage buttons in sets of 4, 6 or 8, so I got 3 lots of those. I also got a mercerised cotton and wool blend for some doilies I want to try designing in a lovely lemon yellow. They really do cater for everyone. Knitting is in the front, crocheting is in the back, felting is down the side, and machine knitting is down the end. I understood after a being there a little while why the first question that the guy asked me was, "what do you do?"

When I thought about it, the place wasn't really cheaper than what you could get at Lincraft or Spotlight on sale (though same as or cheaper than them not on sale). But they ply their own yarns themselves with a machine out the back (which you can see in motion if you peer through the last set of shelves) and are always changing their blends depending on what they have on hand. The man who helped us looked a little intimidating at first but he was so friendly and helpful. You can choose any combination of cones of yarn in the place and they'll ply it together for you on the spot. It's a tiny little shop next door to a milkbar smack-bang in middle suburbia. It was the complete and total anathema of the big chain stores. It was perfect.

I know I'm rambling on about this a lot, but I was just so excited to find a place like this. I spent a lot more than I was planning to, but I'm going to use that wool. I've been asked by a friend to make a scarf in shades of purple, and I've used up most of my purple already because it's my favourite colour. So I had a really good excuse to go there. And I'm sticking with that.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Soldier on with Codral

I'm a bit concerned that my rate of production has been a bit slow. I'm not putting new items up onto my shop as often as I'd like. So I've decided I'd like to make things in batches for a while. It's all about the batch. So on Monday night, in between the snorking and the whorfing of the phlegm, I made these:

ACEO swirlies
I went back to a style of drawing that I find easy and relaxing for these. I just wasn't up for a challenge. It was quite fun. They just need to be covered in sealant (probably followed by a stint in the flower press as I imagine they'll curl) and they'll be done. I've had a lot of issues with paper warping or curling when I try to fix pencil drawings or do painting with watercolour. I'm not deeply enough into doing art at a professional standard to be bothered doing any research on it at the moment.

I've also been looking at all the unfinished knitting and crochet projects I have on my list. 13 at the moment. Oops. But whenever I try to work on one, I just can't be bothered. I thought it was a bit of a shame that I got so excited about some projects, like the kokeshi dolls and then they never got finished because I got bogged down in the details. I had a think about it, and I realised that the reason I got stuck on the second one was that I needed to cut out some felt flowers, and I was too scared to. I didn't want to ruin some perfectly good felt by cutting out dodgy, wonky flowers. So I went on Ebay and bought some felt flowers. As you do. They arrived today! Yippee!

Stash Enhancement
They also came with some wierd felt rope stuff that I'm not sure what to do with, and 5 balls of Moda Vera yarn that accidentally fell into the shopping trolley. Oops. But the more you order, the more cost-effective the postage is, right??

Also, as a result of being an impulsive shopper, I now have to make cat blankets. Long story. I'm subscribed to the blog Etsy Secrets. Etsy shop owners can advertise when they have special deals by posting to the blog. I just read it to keep up with what's happening in the online craft marketing world. (*shifty, sideways look*) Ahem. Anyway, a few days ago, a seller that I know and love - PopArtCafe - was having a deal on her prints. In addition to a buy one, get one free deal, she was also offering all her cat paintings for half price if you promise to donate to your local cat shelter. If you message her the name of the shelter, she will also add it to the list on her website. I thought this was massively cool, and I couldn't resist. I bought *mphphmphph* prints. More than one, let's just say. And I promised to donate to the Lost Dog's Home in Carlton. I checked out their website and they'd like blankets (home-made is most appreciated) and food as well. I thought making a couple of blankets and donating them would be a lot more personal and heart-felt than just sending money. Also the fact that these places often tend to spend more money on trying to get more money from you than they got from you in the first place (did that make sense?) tends to put me off simply just giving money as well. So, in that spirit, I started making a cat blanket the other night:

It's a giant granny square!
I did all of that in one night, plus about 15 minutes at work yesterday. So I reckon it won't take me too long. Plus, it'll help me whittle down my giant, bulging, self-reproducing (I'm sure!) pile of acrylic yarn. That isn't the main reason though. Really.

A couple of extra things:

- Ravelry, despite having 127,000 users, is still in Beta mode so non-members can't link to their brand new shop with logo merchandise and wittily-quipped t-shirts. Where's my credit card???

- There's a new blog called Sweet Figments, run by one of my favourite Etsy sellers, The Tiny Fig. It's logo is over on my sidebar there. I bought two pairs of earrings from her a few weeks ago, and I just adore them immensely. (They came in adorable gift boxes with free stickers.) Sweet Figments is all about highlighting smaller Etsy sellers, with interviews, news and tips. I wanted to spread the word because her personal/shop blog is so helpful and fun to read, and she was a real pleasure to deal with as a buyer.

Yes, I have been buying a lot lately, it's true. I've still spent far more on Etsy than I've made! But I have a few semi-goals (yeah, the G-word again!) for the next month. Say, till the end of June:
* get my Works In Progress list down from 15 (yeah it went up since I started this post!) to 12
* get the number of items for sale in my shop up from 32 to 40.
* Tidy up the hobby room. I can't really put a number on that.




I was hoping to do a lot of crafty stuff last weekend, not least start digging in the hobby room. But I came down sick and spent most of the weekend pouting on the couch. I did manage to read nearly half of my new biography of Marie Antoinette, though. (It's the one by Antonia Fraser - over 600 pages.) I called in sick on Monday, but I'd had a sale from my shop on Friday and I felt like I had to send it out as soon as I could. So I printed out the zines, packed them up nicely and snorked my way down to the Post Office. (That's what you call it when you're stuffed to the gills with phlegm and you're only barely holding it in). The woman weighed it and said the cost was $6. Now, I had checked on the website and according to that, the cost for a letter up to 125g would be $2. That's what I've been charging for postage on zines. This person had ordered my two longest (and therefore heaviest) zines. I really hadn't thought about that before. But I noticed on the scales the weight was 126g. That's right people, it was 1 gram over!! I was mightily pissed off, but I didn't take it out on her. It wasn't her fault. I paid politely and I wore it.

Later on though, I couldn't help thinking - if hadn't included a Moo card, if I had printed them on 80 gsm paper instead of 100 gsm, if I hadn't tied them together with a ribbon. If I hadn't included the free postcard that my special offer specified that I'd include. If I'd written my return address on the back instead of using a sticker. Perhaps if I was a really hot guy with soulful, puppy-dog eyes, she might have bent the rules for me.... But then the next person along the line probably would have marked it Return to Sender. So what can you do? It could happen to anyone.

As Frida Kahlo used to say, there's no recourse.

More later when I have pictures.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Chihuahua, originally uploaded by patisotagami.

I felt bad leaving a bitter note after the last post, so I thought I'd leave you with a really adorable note until I have time to write a proper post.

Chihuahua kisses to you all!

Friday, 16 May 2008

How to NOT alienate customers and piss them off

* Charge the correct amount for postage. Even if you have to guess, there are calculation tools to make it fairly accurate.
* If you undercharge for postage, wear it. It's your own fault. Don't ask the customer to pay extra.
* If you do undercharge, and you get a quote, make sure the quote is correct before asking the customer to pay the balance. If the quote is twice as much as the postage really is, a good mail order operator should at least have some idea that it's wrong.
* Oh, and don't say you won't send the goods until after the customer pays the balance. That's quite insulting.
* Of course, asking for twice as much as the postage actually costs will result in you having to turn around and admit that you overcharged the customer and give them a refund. Leading to more confusion and less customer satisfaction.
* If you do say you are going to give the customer a refund, do it straight away!
* Don't ask for or expect repeat business.

Ok, rant over now.

Monday, 12 May 2008

In a Nutshell

I'd much rather read blogs than write them at the moment, so I'm keeping it short.
(I currently have 116 blogs on my feed. *gulps*)

Amazing Birthday Haul
I got a Lincraft voucher, an Art 'n' Craft Riot voucher, and a subscription to CRAFT magazine from my amazingly wonderful, generous friends for my birthday. Thanks guys!!! I still haven't decided what to buy. Some canvas boards to try out my painting on, perhaps. (NOT more wool! :P)

From my Mum I got these:

Some socks. Some Yuzu hand cream. It smells divine! Like floral and citrus. And a kokeshi doll! I'm especially happy with her. And I realised that her head is poseable!:

I got it finished! Yes I did! Way late, but I'm very proud of it. I'm even sending it to people I don't have to. What's it about? The title pretty much sums it up. And if you want more, it's listed in my shop.

"My Life as a Slacker;
Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wage"

There's a workshop on street media (zines, blogs, etc) on at the City Library on Wednesday nights starting this week. I can't decide whether to go or not. It would be good for me to meet people, get some new skillz, and borrow hundreds of books (well, some may argue against the last one!), but on the other hand, I'm pretty sick of zines, I'm supposed to be doing BodyPump on Weds nights, and I'm very shy and never take proper advantage of these opportunities. So I just don't know! I have 2 days to decide.

I came into a little bit of money that I wasn't expecting to get from a dispute from a former employer. So I decided to fork out money for some things to do with the shop that I wouldn't normally, or not at this stage yet, anyway. I got:

A Head. I was very excited when I ordered this! Hopefully it will make my hat and scarf pictures look a whole lot better. I just need to find a time when the light is right. Perhaps on the weekend. I hate this time of year - I leave for work in the dark and get home at dusk. And I work in the basement. Still, I've never wanted to be tanned anyway!
(I'm just concerned that her skin is a little shiny. I'm gonna give her a wash. I don't have any inspiration for a name yet. *percolating*)

Moo Cards. These came today. I got a 33% off offer for Etsy sellers. Can't go past that! I could only select photos from my shop, but most of my best photos are on there anyway, so that doesn't matter.

New Banner. See shop. I paid a web designer to make it for me. I didn't like my old banner, but I just couldn't be arsed making a new one. So I decided to help out a fellow blogger who couldn't pay their phone bill.

Bored, hungry and cold now. More next time.
See ya.

I tried to change the style of my blog and it deleted the sidebar completely. #*%#**&^*(&!! I've been meaning to re-do it anyway. I don't have time to finish it off at the moment though, so it might look a bit hinky for the next few days. Whatever.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Museum Field Trip

I so want to go to the Printing Museum open day workshop! But I am shy. *hangs head*

I did go to the Etsy seller's meetup last Sunday though and had a great chat and met lots of great people and saw lots of amazing things. I am seriously coveting some those beautiful handmades.

I've been spending all my spare time grinding away at a zine I've been making for a Swap-bot swap. Normally I love it and I get a lot of inspiration from swaps, but this one is driving me nuts. It's blown out to a gargantuan 50 pages, only half of which are done. When you're hopelessly behind on the deadline and you're getting real cravings to knit instead, it's not so fun. Hopefully it'll be finished soon, and no more zines for a while!

I have some exciting new purchases and other things to show you, but it'll have to wait til I can A) be bothered to take photos; and B) have access to the computer; and C) actually have time.

All I want to say right now is - my head arrived yesterday and I can't wait to start using it!!