Friday, 19 November 2010

Hello everyone,
We will be leaving for our vacation on monday - almost three weeks in florida! I will continue my usual schedule after I'm back - if I get the chance, I'll post about our vacation from our hotel room :-)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Feature Friday - Jessica Van Den and *bespoke*

Featured Artisan today:

Until September 2008, Jessica Van Den wasn't crafty at all. That changed when she was given a novel about a woman who owned a yarn store in New York. It inspired her to start knitting - and it all went from there! She now works at her jewellery business  and her blogs full-time, as well as launching *bespoke*

Please tell me more about *bespoke*
*bespoke* - a lovely little zine all about handmade, vintage, photography, art, micro-business, eco-friendly goodness and much more – all in a sweet little A5 sized package that you can take anywhere!
Issue 1 of *bespoke* features gorgeous photos and artwork; interviews with a number of successful full-time crafters - including a feature on those who use upcycled/recycled materials in their work; an interview with Liss Winnel from the blog Daydream Lily; a Summer Lovin' feature of handmade products; cherish - stories and photographs of cherished handmade and vintage items; vintage crafts - this issue it's macrame, and much more!
*bespoke* is for those who live and love a creative, crafty life - and especially for those who sell their craft as a hobby or business!

That sounds great! Where can I find it?
can I read your blog, follow you on twitter or like you on facebook?

How did you get the idea for your zine?
I love blogging, but I really wanted to create something tangible - and hence *bespoke* was born! A lot of folk are doing e-zines recently, but I wanted to make a print magazine that would last. When I put the idea out there, I was happily amazed by the positive response, and I ran with it!

What does your day look like?
 Well, currently I work all day, every day, with the occasional ½ day off here and there. I’m a night-owl, so I tend to wake up around 9, and hop straight onto my computer – usually I’ll do this in bed, with my laptop, and my husband Nick will bring me a cup of tea. During this time, I’ll respond to any urgent e-mails; re-list items that have sold and send thank-you’s to my customers; check my blogs for stats and comments, catch up with my online friends on twitter and forums; and write down any orders that have come in.
f I have jewellery orders to make, I’ll then start work around 10:30 or so, and work through until all the orders are complete. I generally hop on the laptop briefly every hour or so to keep on top of e-mails, and give my fingers a rest from filing, sanding, polishing, bending and engraving!
I’ll pack my orders and drive to the post-office by about 4pm, and then come home, have dinner, and get back on the computer until bedtime. I usually try to have at least an hour or so off in the evening to just hang out with Nick, watch some DVD’s or read a bit of my latest SF novel (I’ve always been a sucker for a good science fiction story!). I head to bed around 12 or so.  I also usually try to devote most of one day on the weekend to working on and scheduling blog posts, when my inbox is a little quieter!
Do you have any tips for other artisans/crafters?
Just do it! Don't dither around trying to get everything perfect before you start – you won't. Just launch yourself out there, keep working hard on making more awesome work, and keep sharing it. 
Selling online, the absolute key is your photography. Learn how to take clear, captivating and enticing product shots. Never, ever use a flash! Have a consistent background and look to your photography – and stick to it.
Join twitter, and use it. This is, hands down, the best thing I've ever done for my business – let alone my sanity! I have made so many friends (and sales) through twitter, and there is no way I could have launched *bespoke* so successfully if it wasn't for the power of twitter and the connections I've made. It even landed me a radio interview (!
Mostly – have fun and keep creating! And take time off – this is something I'm terrible at, but I always feel refreshed for taking a break. It can be really hard to do when you are busy, but you have to realise that no-one is going to tell you it's your 'day off' – you have to make it happen. I got really sick for a day a while back (Nick said he knew I was really ill because I didn't even get on my laptop) and it made me realise that the world will not implode if I'm away from the computer for a day.

Thank you so much for the great interview! Be sure to head over to right away!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Feature Friday - Duo Fiberworks

Hello there,
Its time for another friday feature! And this time, there's a nice reward waiting for you at the end!

Featured Artisan today:

What is it you're making and how did you get into it?
I left my job  at a educational nonprofit when my second son was born. I had been knitting for a while, but was inspired to make toys for my older son as well as figures for the nature table we did together.
I could not find patterns for the things I wanted to make so I started designing toys. I like the smooth, even look of knitting that has been felted and the sturdy, non-holey characteristics of felted knitting seemed to work well for toys. I put together a collection of knitted and felted toy patterns in 2008 and am still working to design toys and little things for our home.
It is extremely satisfying to figure out a new design and it constantly challenges and rewards me to work with yarn and needles to make new things. 
In 2007 my twin sister Laura and I began our blog, Duo Fiberworks to chronicle our creative projects. We were/are both stay-at-home moms and sometimes our creative side got lost or pushed aside. We wanted to record our inspirations and projects, remember what was important to our creative selves and participate in the online craft community. We haven't always blogged frequently, but our blog is something we always come back to and it's really great to share such a project. 

Where can I find your creations?

Can I be your fan on facebook, read your blog or follow you on twitter?

What does your day look like?
Laura and I each have two young boys and we homeschool them.  During the week, I get up early to get some work done before the kiddos are up. We do our homeschool lessons right after breakfast. Some days, we do something fun with other homeschool families but either way, we try to spend time outside after lunch, whether it's looking for minnows at a local creek, an excursion to our local farmer's market or just working in our family's garden. We are fortunate to live in Berea, Kentucky, an artsy, progressive community with a strong community of artists and craftspeople. It's good for us and good for our kids to be around creative folks on a regular basis.

Any tips for other artisans/crafters?
When beginning a crafting business, I think it's hard to get started and to identify your own aesthetic. But as you make projects that please you, you will develop it. When I look at my knitting patterns now, I see that I generally like bright colors, simple shapes and things that are not aggressively cutesy. 

Also, I am a very thrifty person, but I buy the best materials I can afford, it's not a place to scrimp. 

Find friends to share in your creative pursuits. My weekly stitching and knitting group is a great way to stay connected and inspired. It also provides accountability for finishing projects! 

We explore all kinds of creative things that are interesting to us, I don't define myself solely as a knitter. In addition to being a skilled fiber artist, Laura is an experienced natural dyer and I am learning to carve Swedish-style wooden spoons. We still thrill at learning new things! 

Do you want to give away something to the blog readers? 
I am currently putting up a free knitting pattern for a toy or gift every Wednesday for the next month. I have already up two, Little Birds, chubby knitted songbirds, and the S.S. Guppy, a knitted and felted sailboat.

Thank you so much for the great interview and for the free patterns, too! 


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Stress free Holiday preparation - a dream come true!

You haven't missed last weeks installment, I have! I'm really sorry - I promise to get back on track NOW :-)
This weeks post will focus on Kids and teens, who are fairly easy to shop for. Last week has all about the guys - you can go back and read it here: Stressless Holidays, part II

Hello there,
things have been crazy busy here with making my husbands present, preparing for our vacation and organizing a Halloween party for some preschoolers. Now that Halloween is over, I hope I'll manage to get back on track with creating for my etsy store (some window stars - its the perfect season!) and especially with blogging.
This week focuses on something fairly easy - shopping for kids!

Chocolate Frosted Donut

Step Three: Do this  NOW!

wrapping supplies
Go and take a look at the wrapping paper, gift tags and bows you have. Do you need any more? No need to get out and buy some now, but take a look at your supplies and make a note of what you can pick up on your next shopping trip.

Mark the kids on your list

If the kids on your list are your own, you probably already have a very good idea of what they want. My advice for Kids presents - decide on one (or two - depends on your budget, too, of course!) bigger thing(s) that they'll get.

If you need more packages under the tree, use small and inexpensive things to add to the count. Here are my favourites:

crocheted Brown Bear

  • age appropriate craft supplies: Crayons and large paper, stickers, acrylic paint, stretched canvas (fairly cheap and makes a BIG Present) fabric paint...
  • Cute socks (with separated toes, maybe), T-shirts
  • Gift certificates for you TIME: Dinner and a movie with your teenager, shopping trip, Vouchers for favourite meals, I'm sure you can think of more things :-)
  • Books are always good! Picture books for toddlers, chewable books for babies, novels for young readers
  • Accessories for Dolls! Bed, clothing,a mini quilt - there is so much awesome stuff out there!

If the kids are NOT your own, please talk to the parents! I know there are some things I do not want people to give my kids and it helps to avoid needlessly spent money :-)

Extra credit:
Are you crafting anything for the holidays?
If you want to give handmade (by yourself) this year, you have probably started already. If it is at all possible, finish something this week and wrap it - even if it is something very small, just so you can see some progress

On the Go Crayon Roll
by ItsMyFavorite

What if...
there are no kids on your list?
take a look at your list again and write down what you want to get the person if you already know. Is there stuff you can finish this week? Do it! Wrap it up, put a name tag on it and put it in a place where you can find it again.

I know this is the hardest part for some people - it helps to realize that less presents mean less stuff to put away for your kids and that they appreciate their gifts more if there are less of them. That said - I tend to go overboard, too ;-)

Whats next?
Custom Waldorf style doll
next week we will do the (in my opinion) easiest group - girls on your list! Fun to shop for, easy to create for and you probably already have a decent idea what you could get them.

Did you know?
Waldorf Dolls make great gifts! There are so many makers of Waldorf dolls out there that make so many different dolls - I'm sure you'll find one to suit you and your kids! If you want a custom doll, NOW is the  time to order! It takes time to make a doll, but it can still be done!

Keep creating,