Friday, 28 February 2014

Weekend Link Love 28/2

Well hi everyone, aren't you glad it's the weekend.  I'm suitably relaxed, having had a beer and a cheeky hot dog dinner. This weekend I'm heading up to York with Steve to meet my baby nephew and I'm more than a little bit excited. I'm gradually beginning to calm down a bit after my few weeks of crazy-busy-ness and I'm looking forward to lots more crafting in March.

This week I've managed to start catching up on a few of my favourite blogs. I had a good wee giggle about this post which shows Pinterest-inspired baking which has gone incredibly wrong.  Proof to me that the wonderful world of internet-making isn't all that it seems.

I also squealed a little bit with joy at Jo's post about how she packages her crafts.  She's just started selling the most gorgeous baby-gro bears.  Do go take a look.

Zoe from Floral and Feather posted a great guest post over at Knit me a Cake.  I love the photographs and the idea of a knitted bracelet just works so well.

The other post that really caught my attention was this one by Miss Jojangles.  One of my New Year's Resolutions was to practise my handwriting.  I don't have typical primary school teacher handwriting by any stretch of the imagination and I loved the way Jojo discussed handwriting as an expression of personality.

What did you think of Jojo's handwriting post? What caught your eye this week?

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

February Projects

cabled crochet cushions // mulled wine, piste map with hand crocheted headband // vintage dress alteration (work in progress) // grey chevron lace cardigan (work in progress) // crocheted collar birthday present // de-stashing sock (work in progress)

Looking back at my last monthly round up post, I can't believe I said I was busy!  February took a bit of a crazy turn and I ended up being the busiest I can ever remember being. I'm really feeling it now though and am pretty much desperate for a whole day that I can spend in my PJs just crafting and watching some rubbishy TV.

I'm hoping that March will give me some time to finish off some of these projects. I hope to be skipping about in the sunshine in my vintage dress before not too long, maybe also with some wooly socks and a crocheted cardi. Or maybe that's a bit too ambitious...

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Just A Minute In...February

Wow-oh-wow, I really didn't mean to have quite such a long blogging break. You know sometimes when lots of kind-of-important life things all end up happening at once?  You know that time in your life when you are not quite sure how to pack everything into the hours in the day? Hopefully you do. I'm having one of those times.  Over the last three weeks, things have got more than a little busy.  I've just come back from a brilliant ski holiday though.  When one of the things that has made life busy is a rather energetic holiday, I can't really complain can I?   

I'm resorting to Just A Minute to help get back into the blogging groove.  This is a greaty idea I spotted on Helen Limbrick's blog which give you a little time to reflect on what you've been up to recently.

Watching: Half an hour of The Great British Sewing Bee is literally all I've managed over the last few weeks.

Reading: I've just finished Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy.  It's a teenage book that had me absolutely hooked all the way through.

Listening: Morning by Grieg.  All the teachers at school take turns to choose a piece of calming music for the children to walk into assembly.  I went for this in a last minute panic because I'd forgotten to choose, but I'm pleased with my choice.

Eating: lots.

Working on: yet another chevron lace cardigan - is this an addiction?

Looking forward to: a few moments of peace and quiet so I can catch up on a bit of dress-altering and TV viewing. Hopefully things will calm down soon! 

Image of my travel craft kit courtesy of Jenni at Daydreams and Sunshine and Paperchase

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Guest Post from LaLau Land

Wow, life suddenly got extremely and almost unimaginably busy here.  Luckily I had the lovely Laura from LaLau Land happily (I hope) recruited to share a guest post about her Etsy shop.  I love her attitude towards her business and the story that she's written for EmmaMade readers about how it's evolved. Do pop over there and have a look, it has  range of cheerful, quirky handmade items including handmade cat toys!  


Hello EmmaMade Readers!  It's great to be here today, and many thanks to you, and our talented hostess, for having me.

My name is Laura Weiller, and in 2011, I began blogging at LaLau Land, though I'd been a blogger long before that.  I discuss my various crafts, our 5 sweet pets, minimalism, and of course, life {in no specific order}.  This year, I am working to make changes at my blog and within my Etsy shop, which I hope my readers will be a part of.  I've received so much support from my fellow bloggers and crafters, even just recently; it's amazing. 

Also in 2011, I decided to try my hand at building a craft business.  I should mention that math is my mortal enemy; ever mocking me.  So when I saw Etsy's listing fees, and percentage of money they take from each sale, I panicked.  I think I even cried.  My husband and I haven't had the most stellar financial history throughout the bulk of our marriage; and I've had no success seeking work, leaving him the sole provider.  I desperately wanted, and needed this to work in our favor.

As one might imagine, recklessness never bodes well for a shop.  To prove this, I gave rushing it a fair shot.  I quickly photographed my best work, slapped on descriptions I hoped would draw customers; I may have even pulled a price out of a hat.  Real magic trick stuff.  I proudly surveyed my shop, and awaited my millions.  Of course, not much happened. 

Before we continue, it is important to note, while I may be a long-time crafter and blogger, I am far from reaching "old pro" status.  I've not been selling long, and haven't sold much at all.  I struggle and over-analyze the mole-hill questions.  These generally range from wondering about postage fees to freaking out about how much stock I might need -- it's difficult balancing crafting alongside minimalist values.  I've been at this for years now, and some folks think I should have it all together.  It takes time to build, grow, and develop anything, so I don't let all those "shoulds" get me down. 

On a personal level, my shop is coming together out of a desire to show others the simple beauty of handmade.  I'm a romantic, serenaded by the values of a time long ago, before we rushed life and replaced everyone's best work; often with {forgive me} impersonal store-bought smut.  Nothing handmade is "cheap", but a quality crafted item will pay for itself many times over.  I've never had anyone complain about my prices before - but until recently I didn't even know what overhead was or that it was okay to tack an hourly wage onto my products.  According to most craft seller guides and formulas, I should be charging much more than I'm likely to ever ask. Moral of the story?  We all need to earn a living, but it is up to us to draw a line between fair earnings and asking too much.

This year, my shop will feature seasonal items rather than an everything-all-at-once approach.  I am also further opening up to the creative community and sharing certain talents I otherwise wouldn't have thought to use in this capacity.  I've spent so much time worrying that I didn't have a specific-to-me niche.  As my business floundered, I've kept my drawings and love of repetitive paper-projects mostly to myself.  So, the first new item for 2014 will be {almost} completely customizable stationery sets with hand-drawn / handwritten stickers.  I'm inspired by a love of simple things and amazed by how much I have taken for granted over the years. 

When my cat, Twitter lost his favorite fetching mouse and I couldn't replace it right away, I toyed with yarn and a combination of a couple crochet patterns and ended up with a huge toy rat that even Gingy {our puppy} loves.

I've patterned scarves, boot cuffs, and fingerless gloves to suit my tastes.  The icing on the cake is that I'm great at designing documents for office use, so I created my own pricing roster, complete with formulas so math doesn't kick my -- Etsy.

My favorite crafting moments are those when a discovery is made out of imagined necessity.  Last year, I started putting together floor cushions.  When they're done, not only will they work as cushions, but in the right situation, could piece together a full sofa.  My husband later learned about pallet furniture and that wooden pallets are often free or cheap.  This led to my researching building furniture out of pallets.  We are so excited, and hope our inspiration eventually leads to our being able to work together - who knows, maybe one day LaLau Land will be a family business.

My advice to craft sellers new and old alike

1.  Appreciate - As craftspeople, we can be very hard on ourselves.  Take some time to truly appreciate your own work.  Be honest about it.  Pretend for a moment that someone else did it and ask yourself how you feel about it before you demean, belittle, or undervalue it.

2.  Ask - Don't be afraid to speak to the rest of the blogging / shop owner community about any questions or problems you may have.  Be forewarned that (especially if using a forum) you may end up suffering informational-overwhelm.  I recommend giving yourself at least a week to process new ideas and thoughts brought up in a forum.

3. Know You - Be honest with yourself about yourself.  There is no exactly correct, 100% proven way to gain a following and customer base.  Knowing yourself helps to get to know your product, which should make it a bit easier to sell.  I never thought to use my drawings or handwriting, both of which are unique to me, because I was too busy looking for an exclusive niche to validate myself.  It was there the whole time...

4.  Don't Shy or Spook - At the risk of repeating #2, please don't be shy.  I'm shy and occasionally awkward until I get to know someone, or feel we clicked from the start.  It's difficult for me to clearly verbalize my questions.  I love helping people whenever I can, so here's an open invite to email me anytime.

5.  Reality vs. Wishes - Wishes are dreamy things.  I wish I could pull off being a famous singer, and my husband says I have the voice for it.  But the reality is that while I love singing, it just wouldn't be fun for me if it became a full-time job, or if I had to fight for my right to not have fireworks, LEDs, and so on.  The reality is that I get my jollies from making simple things, singing in the moment, dancing when the mood strikes, and making Youtube videos with my besties.  My advice is to relax.  Reality is worth the ah-ha moment upon discovery.

You've been wonderful.  Thank you all for this oppotunity to share today. I like leaving readers with a brief encouragement:  Whatever you're doing, it's beautiful.  Go work it. ~_<3


I am so grateful to Laura for taking the EmmaMade reins for a while.  Do check her out elsewhere on our wonderful interweb.

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Friday, 7 February 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Be My Valentine

Beautiful hand-pressed Valentine's card by From Joan Cards
I just love how unique this idea is, it just looks beautiful.

Crochet heart brooch by bekaboodesigns
So original!

I recently came across this blog and I'm so pleased I did.  It's filled with lovely craft projects.

Gorgeous hand-knitted card by Hannah Shelbourne Designs
Just look at the cute message and the adorable button

How cute!

With a week to go until Valentine's day, it's pretty clear that online crafters are pretty much in love.  I've found some of these lovely products from #handmadehour and some just from my blogging.  It's great to see so many people coming up with their own unique Valentine's designs.

I'm not massively into Valentine's Day myself; it's my sister's birthday so it was always her special day when we were growing up.  I'm looking forward to the 14th for a different reason - half term!  Bring it on!

What are your Valentine's Day plans?

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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Lil' Monkey Baby Blanket

The project I'm sharing with you today is the Lil' Monkey Blanket that I made using the pattern from the Happy Hooker.  It's a great book which I won't go one about too much as I wrote a review for it here.

I actually made this blanket last year and then gave it my sister-in-law for a baby shower present.  Her due date has just past so I'm excited to think that soon enough this blanket will have a very tiny new owner.

I really enjoyed making the sixteen chunky, granny squares and then laying them all out before stitching them all together.  I loved the gender-neutral colours and the textures they created. The only problem I did have was sourcing the correct wool but I soon adapted the pattern with a bit of imagination and test swatches.  If you are interested in how I went about this you can read about it here. In the end I doubled up DK wool in light and dark grey, cream and red.  I love the mottled effect the two-tone DK wool created.

So, how's your weekend been?  I've had a lovely time finishing off some crafty birthday presents this weekend and today Steve and I had a good old potter around our village.  It's pretty cold here, but oh-so-sunny, which is great.  Everyone loves a bit of Vitamin D after those long, dark nights and short, dark days, right?

What have you been making this week?

Don't forget to pop over to Handmade Harbour and see what all the other Handmade Monday-ers have been making this week.

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