Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Artfire Shop 10% Off Everything!

Merry Christmas! (Yes, I know it's politically incorrect, but I celebrate Christmas so that's what I wish you all.)  And Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe 2012 is almost over and we're going to start 2013.  2012 was a good year and flew by.  My November craft shows went very well and generated some orders as well.  Sales and custom orders from Etsy and Artfire have been good enough to keep me busy.  So I'm satisfied.  I still have a couple more orders to finish.  Plus a dinner party to host and a couple other events to attend.  And Christmas shopping and wrapping!

Then for the new year, I plan to try out some new stuff.  I want to make shawls, cowls, infinity scarves, and socks and slippers, and baby stuff and oh so many more things.  Sooooooo, to clear out inventory and start with the new, my Artfire shop ( is having a sale!  10% off everything!  Please take a look.  I almost always ship items out the same day or the next day, so you'll get it quickly.  And the prices are really, really reasonable.

Here are a few things available:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Craft Show Survival

Two down--one more to go!  That's craft shows I"m talking about.  I've spent the past 2 Saturdays manning my table at local craft fairs.  I'll spend next Saturday doing the same thing and then I'm done.  And I'll be glad.

Don't get me wrong--I love doing craft shows.  It's fun to reconnect with fellow crafters you saw last year and fun to meet new ones.  It's also fun to see many of the same shoppers year after year.  And it's always interesting to talk to new shoppers.  The show I was at yesterday was at the high school my son attended and put on by the Band Boosters, an organization I was president of when my son attended school.  So I saw a lot of old friends and acquaintances which I thoroughly enjoyed.

And craft shows are a good learning experience.  You can watch people look at your product and see what interests them and what they think of things.  That will help guide you as you create more products.

But craft shows are exhausting and a bit humbling.  If you're like me, I spend the week before harriedly (is that a word?) making more items and trying to make the right items.  Then I lay out my products and try to arrange them in an attractive way.  Then I have to pack everything up and get out any display stands, racks, tables, etc.  Then I have to make sure I have change and all the other little essentials like tape, scissors, paper, pens, credit card reader, etc.  Then the car has to get loaded.  Then you unload at the show and set it all up.  And you worry that you won't be ready at 9 am when the show starts.  Then you look around at all the other wonderful items people are selling and the creative ways they're displaying their wares and you feel totally inadequate (at least I do for awhile).  Then you worry if people are going to come.  Then you worry if they're going to buy.  Then, if the fates allow, you're so busy selling to the hordes of customers that you're soon exhausted.  Or, if the fates are unkind, customer traffic is slow and the day gets very long as you and your fellow crafters wonder why there are no shoppers.  Either way, at the end of the day you have to pack up all your items, drive home, and then unload again and put everything away.  And then you start all over for the next show.

To sum it up:

People contact
Opportunity to see people's reactions to your product and discuss your product with them
Opportunity to see what other crafters are making, how they display their wares, pricing

Lots of physical  labor in loading, unloading, set up

Tips for Success
     1.  If possible, get someone to help you load, unload, set up, load up again and unload at home.  It's also great to have someone with you at your table all day, but if that's not possible, if someone can relieve you at lunch so you can go to the restroom, eat, shop, etc. is great.  This year my son is helping me.  He helps me load up the car and set up my display.  Then he stays at the show with me for a little while so I can visit the restroom and take a quick look around the show.  Then he comes back around lunch and mans my table while I go eat, etc.  (He's been very good at selling items while I'm away!).  Then he comes back at the end of the afternoon to pack me up and get everything home.  If you have no helper at the show, usually your fellow crafter on either side of you will watch your table while you run to the bathroom, etc.

     2.  Talk to people--your neighbors, shoppers, etc.  You can learn some tips and tricks.  Plus, it just makes the day more fun.

     3.  Don't stress too much about whether you measure up to the other crafters.  I was taught modesty and not to brag growing up, so I always feel a little humbled by the creativeness of everyone else at the show.  But I know my work is good and I just tell myself to get over it.

     4.  Treat your customers well.  Good customer service skills are essential and not very hard to learn.  Basically, treat them as you'd like to be treated.

     5.  If you don't sell a lot, don't spend your time complaining about it or bad mouthing the organizers of the fair.  Take the time to calmly and rationally think about reasons why things didn't go well (weather, other events going on at the same time, location, lack of advertising, audience that doesn't fit your product, etc.) and then learn from the experience and decide whether this is a show that just isn't right for your products or it's worth tweaking your products and trying again next year.  Complaining and blaming are negative time wasters.  What's done is done.  Focus on what could be improved and move on.

     6.  Take a water bottle with you.  You'll get thirsty.

     7.  Most of all, enjoy and have fun!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Craft Show Basics

I love craft shows! There are so many fabulous things that people make and always way too many things I want to buy. However, I won't get a lot of time to shop since I'll be having a table at Rosemount High School on November 3. If you're in the area, stop by between 9 am and 4 pm. They're going to have about 90 vendors and there are some very talented crafters there.

Then on November 10 I'll have a table at Eagan High School and on November 17 at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School in Eagan. Please stop by!

For those of you who participate in craft shows, I wish you great shows. I've been busy getting all my stuff together and hopefully I won't forget anything. Here's a brief list of things to take with you:
change--plenty of one's and five's
a cash box
blank price tags (in case something comes off during transit and set up)
cell phone
water bottle
money to purchase food or drink at the show if needed/wanted
table covering
mannequins, jewelry stands, shelves, racks, etc needed for displaying your items
your tax id number (many shows ask you to fill out a form at the show with your
tax id #)
business cards

These are pretty much the basics. I hate hauling a bunch of stuff around, so I try to keep it to a minimum. If I didn't have to load up the car, unload the car, and set things up--craft shows would be perfect. But other than the heavy lifting, craft shows are a lot of fun. Get to know your neighbors--the vendors on each side of you, behind you and across from you. They're great people and you can learn a lot from them. Talk with the shoppers. They're great people too. Even if you're shy--just make yourself talk to people. Pretty soon you'll feel right at home. (I must admit it took me a couple of seasons before I got over my shyness and felt really comfortable.)

Here are a few of the things I'll have in my booth. I'm looking forward to seeing all the great things at shows this next month!

Early Bird Shopping Lists

I joined a blog hop at Check out her blog for some great items from some great sellers. If I knew how to post the linky link correctly, I believe I could make the list of all the items and pictures show up on my blog; but, alas, my technical skills are not that great.  So I urge you to click on the link which will take you to photos of all the great items.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cranfest and Ruffle Yarn

I had to share a fun travel experience we had last weekend.  We went to Cranfest in Warrens, WI. ( What is Cranfest you ask?  Well, it's the biggest craft show/flea market I've ever seen.  They say they have over 1250 booths and over 3miles of booth frontage and I believe them.  I've never seen so many vendors in one place.  And I don't think I've ever seen that many people in one place.  Think Minnesota State Fair but way bigger.  People were there from all over and some we talked to go year after year.

Even though it was crowded, we had a nice time.  It was the perfect day for it--temps in the 70s and beautiful fall colors.  There were tons of craft booths with all kinds of crafts.  Then there were flea market type booths.  There were lots of booths selling food items--cranberry cheese, cranberry sausage, cranberry jelly beans, sauce mixes, etc.  Then, of course, there were plenty of vendors selling you food to eat.  The festival lasts 3 days and on Sunday they have a big parade.  You can also go see a cranberry bog--something I'd never seen before.  We stayed in Tomah, WI overnight and rode their shuttle bus to the festival.  I highly recommend that because it avoids a lot of parking and traffic hassles.  I also recommend taking a collapsible shopping cart if you like to buy things.  Carrying stuff around gets really tiresome.

The drive back home was lovely.  There were some very pretty leaves to see and pretty countryside.  It was a perfect fall weekend getaway.

My son thinks I should have a booth there.  It's a tempting thought because there would certainly be a lot of potential customers.  But 3 days outdoors is a big commitment.  But I'll think about it.

All those craft vendors got me in the mood to get busy on my own work.  Since October is breast cancer awareness month, I'm working on some pink ruffle scarves.  Awhile back I did a post on working with Red Heart's Sashay yarn.   I mentioned that separating it and wrapping it around cardboard helped in making it easier to work with.  I've discovered the same thing applies to a couple of new yarns I've tried--Michael's Flaunt yarn and Bernat's Ruffle.  These yarns are a little different from Sashay in that they're not a mesh but actual little ruffles.  They do have the space along one edge though which is where you knit into.  I discovered that you really do need to smooth these yarns out first and wrap them around something or they're pretty hard to work with.  So far, I really like Michael's Flaunt yarn.  They have some nice colors and the quality is good.  The price is good too.  I'm really disappointed with Bernat's version.  The one skein I've used was broken and then knotted in 3 different places and there were a couple of other places where it was frayed.  I expected better from such a major yarn maker.  I'm including a picture of the scarf I made with Michael's Flaunt.  With this one I did 15 stitches and it took 3 skeins.  I think the next one I'll reduce the number of stitches to 9 and it should only take 2 skeins.  I used Size 4 needles.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Tip on Making Ruffle Scarves

Looks like it's been a long time since I posted anything.  Like my last post says--I was really into making baby stuff.  I did 3 baby afghans, hats, booties and a full size afghan.  Gave myself some tendonitis (really not a fun thing to deal with) and turned another year older since my last post. 

Summer really flew by.  I really cut down on the time I spent doing social media and took a week's vacation in Yellowstone National Park.  A very worthwhile change to make.  I felt more rested and got more things done at home and with my family.  It's amazing how much time the internet takes up.  There are so many good things out there on the web and useful information, but I think we should be very judicious about how much time we spend staring at a screen.  I highly recommend taking a vacation that does not involve computers, tablets or even cell phones.  A place like Yellowstone is the perfect place for just such a vacation.  And you don't really need all that electronic stuff when you're enjoying all that nature has to offer.  Besides the gorgeous scenery, we saw elk, moose, bears, deer and other wildlife.  I never even turned on my cell phone while I was there. 

And now for the tip:

Now that summer is over and craft show and holiday season will be here soon, I've tried to get back to work.  I found the ruffle yarn in team colors and since I live in the home of the MN Vikings and right next door to the Green Bay Packers, I thought scarves in those team colors would be a good choice.  Working with the ruffle yarn, however, can be a pain the butt.  I read a comment somewhere long ago that someone thought maybe wrapping the yarn around some cardboard or something might help with keeping the mesh open instead of it closing up on you frequently. I haven't read anything else about that since, but this time I thought I'd try it.  So I wrapped the yarn around some cardboard before I started knitting the scarf.  And it worked pretty much.  The mesh still closes up a little, but it's much better than doing nothing.  I've started another scarf and this time I had a ball of some other yarn laying about, so I wrapped the ruffle yarn around that ball.  We'll see if that makes any difference.

Here's a picture of the Vikings scarf I made. 

It's available for purchase at or

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Really Into Making Baby Stuff

I seem to be in baby mode.  Since winter, I've been making baby hats, headbands, hair clips, booties and afghans.  There are sooooo many cute things to crochet and knit for baby!  I'm working on 2 more of the lattice stitch baby afghans I designed--one pink and one blue.  I did baby booties for a co-worker back on Mother's Day.  I had forgotten how fun they are to make and they're really quick too!

What's your favorite baby item to make?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning a New Craft and Designing an Afghan

Wow, time has really flown by!  I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted something.  Life just seems to keep so busy and there's never enough time to do everything we want to do.  Keeping up with a full time job, family, volunteering and my craft business is more than 2 full time jobs I think.  But I don't know what else I'd do.  I love it!

I had a table in Rosemount High School's March craft show.  There weren't nearly as many shoppers as their November show, but it wasn't too bad.  I debuted my newest creations--hair clips and bows with hats and headbands for babies and little girls.  Apparently the hair clips work for dogs too as I sold some to some pet owners.  I purchased my supplies from a local woman who had her own business making them and selling them but no longer has the time to do it.  I wasn't sure how good I'd be at it, but I discovered it wasn't too hard and I really like making the flowers and clips.  It took me awhile to get good with the glue gun, but now I'm not too bad.  And I discovered that using jeweled brads (found with scrapbooking supplies) instead of glue-on jewels in the big flowers is much easier.  I also learned that the best way to make these is to set aside an afternoon and spread out on a big table and work assembly style.  I'm one of those people who likes to finish something before moving on to something else, but doing that makes this slow going.  An assembly line process works much better.

I have also designed a baby afghan.  A customer wanted a baby afghan in a soft cushy yarn using a lattice stitch.  After searching around for a pattern using such a stitch, all I came up with was a little internet picture of the stitch itself and some brief instructions on how to make one row of lattice stitch.  After verifying that's what she had in mind, I did a lot of trial and error and came up with the number of stitches necessary to get the width I wanted (stitch more single crochets than your desired width because once you start the front post stitches, it will tighten up the width).  To determine the size I wanted, I looked at several baby afghan patterns to get an idea of what the most common size was.  I also decided to make it square based on the cost of the yarn (Patons Baby Beehive Chunky).  I was trying to keep the cost down so I didn't want to make it too big.  I had originally thought of using Lion Brand Jiffy, but after looking at it in the store and all the other yarns they had, I thought the Patons felt softer.  Even though it was a little more expensive (thank goodness for coupons!) than Jiffy, I thought it would be the best choice and was also a prettier off white than Jiffy.  I decided that I wanted a more finished look, so after finishing the basic pattern, I added a scalloped edge.  The final afghan measured 35x35.  As I did each row, I wrote down what I did.  (I still have to type it up.)  The afghan was a hit and now I have an order for a pink and a blue one!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Managing Your Business with Children

I just read a good article in Handmadeology about working moms with children and how to manage it all.  The link to the article is

When my son was little, I wasn't very active with my business, but as he got older and I carved out more time for my crafts, I did start incorporating some of these suggestions (although I didn't know it at the time!).  And now that he's a teenager and unemployed, I've made him my assistant (although very part-time).  I think the suggestions of using your babies and toddlers as models is great. They're great to use for sizing while you're making items too.  I have my son helping me with photographing my creations and then actually listing items on my Artfire and Etsy shops.  He was pretty excited when some of those listings sold!  He's also very good at creating the key words and tags for my listings.  He also can edit my photographs.  Because the photographing, photo editing and listing processes take up a lot of time, he's been a great help.

I also put my son to work when I go to craft shows by helping with loading up the car, unloading at the show and setting up my booth.  He's even gone above and beyond the call of duty when I've forgotten something and he's run home to get it.  Then I enlist him as my sales person so I can have lunch and do a little shopping of my own.  And then at the end of the day, he helps me load up everything and take it home and put it away. 

He'll be earning his money this coming weekend because I'm having a booth at the Rosemount High School craft fair on Saturday, March 17 from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.  If you're in the Twin Cities area, stop by!  There will be around 90 crafters and concessions.  Then it will be time to list some new items in my Artfire and Etsy shops.

All of this helps to give him some work skills and a chance to earn a little extra money.  Now if I could only interest him in learning to crochet!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blog Hop

What is a blog hop?

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.
When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the
exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.
The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog
to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

I found the above at <script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script>.  You can add a picture from your website or blog or shop and then when people click on it, it will take them to your blog.  This one has a lot of good things to check out so I urge you to go see for yourself.  I posted my newest baby headband on it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

They Say Sex Sells

They say sex sells, and here's another example:

The headline of course was what caught my eye, but it's an interesting article.  I'm not sure that all the guys in the photos are what I'd call "sexy", but they're great photos and a great way to showcase crochet!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tool to Track Your Sales and Sales Goals

Happy New Year to everyone!

Handmadeology has created a tool to track your Etsy sales and sales goals which I learned about through some other people's Linked In and Facebook posts.  It looks really slick and seems to be quite easy to use.  I recommended giving it a try.  I'm going to.  I might create one for my Artfire store too.  Go to  You can read a little about the spreadsheet and then click on the request button.  Follow the directions and you'll quickly have your own spreadsheet.

I hadn't ever really looked at Handmadeology before although I've heard of it.  It looks interesting, so I subscribed.