Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to increases your sales!

For many years I've heard that your sales technique is everything. You have to skill yourself on how to interpret the needs of others and listen when they speak.

Mastering the art of the sale is another bullet on my list of things to do. If it's on yours I recommend that you take a look at this passage...

The Art of Salesmanship

A young man from Wisconsin moved to Florida and applied for a job at a huge everything-under-one-roof department store. During the brief interview the store manager asked, "Do you have any sales experience?" The young man replied, "Yeah, I was a salesman back in Wisconsin. I worked at a car dealership, a general department store and I also sold real estate."

The manager took a liking to the young man and gave him a job saying, "You can start tomorrow. Be here by 9:00 in the morning and ask to speak with Tom Barnes. He is the assistant store manager and he will show you what you need to do. I'll come down after we close and see how you did." With that they shook hands and parted ways.

After the store closed and the doors were locked up , the boss went to see how the young man's first day had gone. After looking all over the store, the manager finally found the young man sitting on a box in the stockroom, hunched over and looking exhausted.

"How was your first day, son?" he asked.

"It was difficult learning about all the departments and products you sell here sir," The young man replied.

Then the manager asked, "How many sales did you make today, son?"

The young man replied, "Only one."

The manager then asked, "Well, how many customers did you talk to?"

Once again, he replied, "Only one."

The manager responded, "Just one? Our sales people average 20 to 30 customers a day! How much was the sale for?"

"$101,237.65," he replied.

"$101,237.65!" exclaimed the manager. "What the heck did you sell?"

The young man responded, "First, I sold the man a small fishhook. Then I sold him a medium fishhook. Then I sold him a larger fishhook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod, reel and a whole tackle box full of lures and stuff. Then, I asked him where he was going fishing, and he said he was going down the coast. I explained to him that if he was going to the coast, he was going to need a boat. We went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine fishing boat. After that, he said he didn't think his Honda Civic could pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him a 4x4 Expedition."

The store manager, with a look of astonishment on his face proclaimed, "A guy came in here to buy a fish hook, and you sold him a BOAT and a TRUCK?"

"No sir!" The young man said. "He came in to buy tampons for his wife. While I was showing him where the tampons were, I said, "Dude, your weekend's shot. You should go fishing."

Folks, that is a GREAT salesman! Hope I never run into him...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another knitting video...

I was visiting JadieLady's blog today and she had the cutest Fraggle Rock knitting video. I don't know about ya'll but I loved watching Fraggle Rock on HBO growing up. I remember coming home every day from school and watching it.

I can't remember ever seeing those Doozers sing this song though... Oh well, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prayer Shawl Ministry update

As a group, we've been knitting and crocheting our hearts out since the beginning of the year. The results were on display this past Sunday, April 26th before the entire congregation for our very first mass blessing. What a wonderful way to included everyone in the spirit of the ministry!

To date we've completed the following to be dispensed to our shut-ins, sick, elderly or otherwise in need:

24 Shawls, 23 Scarves, 6 Lap Robes, 6 Afghans/Blankets, & 5 Hats

64 completed projects in 4 months! Wow! What an amazing group we have. However, realize that it's not only the hands of these ladies at work but, the hearts of the entire congregation. It takes every person in the church to make a ministry thrive.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mondays with Etsy

Lily of the Valley

As promised, here is another wonderful Etsy "find", MayaLee . She lives in Sweden with her family and loves photography!

Maya Lee states that she has many other creative interests but, has been drawn increasingly more toward the photographic arts. A few of her pieces are TtV, Through the Viewfinder. According to her listings, this means that the photograph is made with two cameras, the first camera looks at the true object of interest and the second camera is used to photograph the image shown on the first cameras viewfinder. How interesting!

Maya Lee says that photography has enabled her to see the world more clearly and allowed her to "see more details, being more aware of the colors and tones around me (her)." Isn't it amazing what we learn through our artistic endeavors?


Turquoise Hearts

I Love Yarn

The photos come in various sizes, all seeming to be a standard size thus easily framed. All are priced very reasonably.

I was instantly drawn to the color and clarity of these photos. They're all very light and airy in appearance, which imparts a feeling of happiness for me. Of course, my love of flowers AND yarn didn't hurt either...Enjoy!

Maya Lee, your lovely photos and shop banner inspired me to do something a bit more creative with my own shop banner. A thousand thanks for sharing your talents with the world!

All photographic rights are held by MayaLee.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting to know Etsy Day...

Today is Etsy Day! Woohoo!

For those of you that aren't familiar with Etsy - it is an online marketing community predominantly for those of us that manufacture BY HAND.

Hundreds around the world form this cottage industry. With this kind of selection you're sure to find something uniquely original for yourself or someone else.

There are sellers of handmade paper goods, leather goods, original acrylics and photos, prints, jewelry - costume to fine, custom clothiers, etc... If you can dream it, they probably have it!

Click the button to find the treasures..

Special thanks to schugirl for this fantastic idea. This image is copyrighted to be used only for Etsy Day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My first piece of measured clothing...

Ya'll know that I can't stand a pattern. Naturally, I rebel against definite measurements, too. That being said, both of these things make it very difficult to make clothing...

A few skeins ago, while working on a Wrapped in Love project, I came across a pattern for a precious baby jumper. It was a little thicker and heavier weight than what I would like, so I tinkered with the design a bit.

The original had a full bodice, front and back, ruffled shoulders, and seemed a bit bulkier overall. I used the rough cast on count of 202 (I used slightly large needles than called for, so I decreased by twenty) and went to work on the base of the skirt. A few rows in I realized that the size of the skirt base was larger than anything I'd ever seen for a one year old child. I decreased every fifth stitch for two rows, which gave me a ruffled edge. (This was fine. The stitch I was working was stockinette, so it would roll anyway!)

Using the base measurement of the pattern for the proper length, I proceeded to cast off all but 60 of the remaining stitches. Then worked these stitches in a basic knit stitch for four inches. Casting all of the stitches off, I decided to add some crocheted lengths to the edges for the purpose of fastening the jumper.

Results -



I like it. I'm still hung up on the size. It looks like it's a little large in the waist for a one year old, even with all of the adjustments. I'm going to search for a childs sizing chart online today. But, what I REALLY want to do is find a beautiful little girl to try it on!

Do ya'll do that? After you've created something, seek desperately for a model to wear it? I think this is the hardest part of creating things to sale - there is no instant gratification of seeing someone enjoy your work...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mondays with Etsy

I've decided to do a post weekly showcasing some wonderful Etsy finds. The themes will vary. Some will be Fiber Arts oriented - hey, this is a knitting blog - and others will be about things that tickled my fancy.

Be sure to join me on Monday's to see what I've found. Hehehe, wiggling my fingers and showing a devious smile, this will be like a weekly treasure hunt!

Here is this weekends find -

TwilightKnits has hand dyed yarn!



Dizzy Girl

Blues Springskein (cute name!)

Yummy colors!

These are all Merino Wool blends. The yarn comes in skeins of 450-462 yards and all are a fingerling weight. Perfect for those socks you want to work on or for that new baby that's on the way! There are many other color combinations available in the store, so be sure to visit TwilightKnits store.

Added bonus - there is currently a SALE going on!!!!!

JadieLady, I hope this post doesn't ruin your "yarn diet"...

All photographic rights are held by TwilightKnits.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm making jewelry!

All that Shimmers Necklace

Lately, I've been making things to stock my Etsy shop. I've made several shawls, often ending up with remnant yarn. I can't stand to see remnants laying around and throwing things away, well, that's almost painful. They cry out to me to be used...Help! Help! I want to be loved, too!

These are a few of the creations that have come out of that need to use up every scrap -

Stormy Sky Choker / Necklace

All that Shimmers Bracelet / Arm Cuff

All that Shimmers Choker / Necklace

All are available for sell at my Etsy shop - La Vida Dulce. I've enjoyed figuring out new ways to use the scraps. Finding creative ways to provide a clasp or connection is the most fun! Talk about a great way to challenge you mind...

Give it a try! I'd love to see your creations!

By the way, what do you think of my pictures? Are they getting better?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prayer Shawl Ministry update

It's been so long since I posted about the group. We been making leaps and bounds into the direction we want to go.

Due to lack of storage space, growing yarn and project stash I moved all of the goodies to the church, once I found a spot. Our church, which is older and has a huge Sunday School extension, was considering sharing space with another smaller congregation for awhile and the extra rooms that we had available were on hold until those issues were ironed out. Three weeks ago we were assigned our official room (pictured below)!

The past two weeks have been spent clearing out the old tidbits and remnants from the previous usage. As I'm only at church on Sundays and Wednesdays and occupied for most of that time, this was a slower process than I'd hoped. Our most recent meeting was the last Sunday in March and we were unable to meet in our room because there were still lots of craft items to be relocated. However, I finished that up last week and we'll be able to use the room fully now! (Special thanks to Linda S. and Lauren T. for helping move all of our goodies from our old spot to the new room.)

Remaining stash

Bins laden with finished projects!

To date we have 20 people signed up in the ministry and most are very active. We have 18 shawls, 5 lap robes, 19 scarves, 4 children's hats, and 4 baby blankets turned in! Phenomenal, especially if you consider that 1/2 of the participants maintain a full-time position and a few are suffering from illnesses themselves.

Finished projects

As we won't be limiting ourselves to shawls, we've decided to take on a more descriptive name for the ministry. We're a Moravian (not Mormon - that's a little different) congregation and our motto is:

In essentials, unity;

In non-essentials, liberty;

and in all things, love.

Jesus said that the greatest of these is love and since we're attempting to share that love with others we decided to name the ministry "Wrapped in Love". It's very apt, don't you think?

Our first blessing is scheduled for Sunday, April 26th, at which time we will bless our work alongside the entire congregation during worship. The following week members will begin dispensing the projects to our sick, shut-ins, and anyone else that we find in need in the congregation.

Our goal is to eventually be able to branch out further into the community. Perhaps we can team up with some nursing facilities, Hospice, cancer treatment centers, and the like. We're looking into this now. If you have any ideas or links, please let me know. I'd also love to hear about the great things you're doing or wish to do in your work.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pattern inspirations

Where do you get your project inspirations from?

If you're like me, sometimes they appear from out of no where, like a bolt of lightening. Other times they creep in in the depth of night. Occasionally, in the shower or the car.

Do you find yourself intently gazing on strangers in line ahead of you - desperately attempting to figure out the pattern before their needs are met or striking up conversations just to find out if they created the item themselves?

"Sorry for staring but I LOVE that sweater. Did you make it yourself?"

Do you find yourself noticing every person around you that is wearing a knit and proceed to critique the color choices and designs in your mind?

"I would have chosen royal purple and blue. Perhaps made the design start a little higher here. Oh, maybe some fringe there...yes, I like that..."

What do you do when the inspiration is no longer there?

These are some things that I've found helpful:

  • I keep the yarn label from skein I use (if there is one). Most labels contain at least one project and many give website addresses for the company. A lot of companies provide free or economical projects through the web now.

  • When browsing at the craft store I always pick up new project flyers. Even if the design doesn't appeal to me, sometimes it will inspire me to try new stitches or stitch combinations.

  • I browse craft and book stores for new magazines and books each visit. My limited budget prevents me from purchasing all of the ones I like, so I make a list of the interesting ones for further research. Sometimes you can find them later at a thrift shop or online at a more reasonable price.

  • Your local library is a treasure in itself! I've found many interesting books there. My favorites are the older books. Even though the pictures may not be as colorful or detailed, you may find design ideas that other people have forgotten over the years.

  • Web searches for free patterns usually result in thousands of project ideas. Who can't find inspiration with that many options?

  • Don't rule out books you already have. If you haven't used the books recently you may have forgotten all that they contain. Take another look. You just might be surprised!

  • Try Ravelry. It's the best website, in my opinion, for these types of searches because you can search by yarn (that you may have on hand), by project style, by color, etc... This is a fantastic way to destash. The best part is that most of the projects will have comments by the maker. You'll know in advance to watch out for certain things or truly how difficult or simple a pattern.

Remember that if you're going to sell something it needs to be your own original pattern. It's okay to duplicate patterns for yourself or as a gift for someone, but once money becomes involved it needs to be your own personal creation.


That being said, I do create my own patterns, mostly due to my own inability to willingly follow a written pattern. However, I was thinking the other day, some of my personal pattern creations are fairly simplistic in nature. A given considering that I'm new to the fiber arts world.

What are the chances that no one has ever copyrighted a basic knit stitched poncho or a double crochet dishcloth???? Very slim. So what would give someone the right to copyright such a basic design? Do you think someone has? (Probably, since they've been using these methods for hundreds of years...) Or would it need to be an intricate design to be copyrighted? How long are copyrights enforceable?

These are little things I've been thinking about over the past few days, since viewing a post about this on Etsy. Honestly, it's something I hadn't considered. Do any of you know the ins and outs of these laws or have any input? I'd love to hear about it...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Help! I can't take a picture...


Sorry for being so remiss in my postings. I set up my Etsy shop several weeks ago and, although I haven't sold a darn thing, am spending what amounts to hours a day trying to tweek everything.

I've been surfing the forums and getting to know some of my fellow Etsians. By the way, I haven't experienced this sort of camaraderie EVER in my life. The people that I've been in contact with are absolutely precious! If you ask a question or have a concern someone hops right in to help. Heck, they even have patience when answering questions!

I've sold on e-Bay for over 8 years now and have never had this sort of experience there. On e-Bay, a few people are helpful and nice the rest are snippy and, at times, down right cruel. Etsians seem to have a more personal, caring attitudes. Perhaps it's the fact that they make most of their things by hand and have a deeper appreciation for what's going on around them due to that fact. Selling something made by someone else can be very impersonal. There's no passion involved unless you inject it.

One of the things that I've noticed is a very high standard in the shops. Pictures and listings are well thought out and, for the most part, highly artistic. When I listed my first few items I thought I'd done a fairly good job with the photos, until I compared them with other shops. Oh my goodness! I was almost embarrassed to see them side by side. Mine were so dark and fuzzy.

This past week I've been testing out all of the options on my camera - with flash, without, with Macros enabled, without, with scene settings, with special lighting, you name it... I've even been taking pictures in my dreams!

After uploading the photos, there is more "repair" work to be done - cropping, correcting any lighting or color issues, making sure what looked good on the camera still looks good.

Here's what I've learned -
  • I have a good camera with lots of bells and whistles. It's a Nikon CoolPix S210. Reasonably priced at around $100 when on sale.

  • There are WAY too many settings to check for each and every picture.

  • I don't understand why the picture looks great with the flash on and terrible with the flash off. With the flash on, the definition is fantastic but, it's too dark. With it off, on the same settings, the photo looks grainy.

  • You can change the focus outcome by changing the focus of that little box that shows up before you click to take the picture. Who knew???

  • You need to take about 5-10 photos of each item in each pose to get one that looks halfway like you want it.

  • I have 5 different photo assistance programs on my computer - each one does a slightly different job and none are exactly what I need to fix a photo 100% for posting.

  • I downloaded Picasa by Goggle and it works better than any of the programs on my computer but, I still have to resize the photos in another program! Somebody please fix this!

  • Picnik works really well but, you have to spend a lot of time waiting for upload and download. You can "buy up" in service but it's too expensive if you're not selling anything. It would be much better if you could install it on your computer, like Picasa, and work offline.

  • By the time I finish making, photographing, editing, uploading photos, listing, and packaging items I would need to charge over $100 for each item to bring in minimum wage for all of the hours spent on the item BEFORE a sell is made.

If anyone else is having the same concerns here are a few links that may help with the photography issues -

Little Birds flash photography tips from her blog.

My Handmade Registry offers tips on cropping.

LiciaPots blog post on her photography contains lots of comparison photos and tips in laymans terms.

Flickr shows some shop makeovers although, many of the photos don't offer a comparison. It will give you some perspective ideas.

Why do you need this if you don't have an Etsy shop?

These tips would come in handy on a blog, too. How many times have you been drawn in to a blog because of an interesting avatar photo, or blog logo? When you get there, don't you expect to find more great photos? I do, but my blog has probably been severely lacking in interesting photos to this point.

What to do now?

I'm still working on my photography. I suppose it's one of those things that you constantly strive to improve at. Ideally, once I get more comfortable with my camera and lighting I'll be able to produce show stopping photos! (And, hopefully, stop taking hours to edit them!)


P.S. Many of the links in this post came in a recent Etsy e-mail, which I found immensly helpful. I told you they were great folks!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My latest contribution to the Prayer Shawl ministry

We've been blessed with tons of donated yarn! Unfortunately, some of the yarn is older and you're unable to find comparable yarn to match with it. This was the case with this lovely, Lavender, virgin wool. We had one large skein, and no other wool or comparable color to go with it.

Since it was a larger skein and somewhat bulky yarn I thought I'd given it a go with some large sticks and an open design. Although, I ended up crocheting this one to try out a new-to-me stitch, the bobble.

It's done on an "N", I think, which is about twice the width of one of those Kindergarten pencils. Do you remember them? My family laughed at me when I pulled out the hook, as it's very fat and glaringly white. Whatever. It got the job done!

The tad bit of leftover yarn I had went to making tassels for each corner. I still can't decide whether or not I want to felt the blanket to make it a little more substantial looking. Right now it makes a great lightweight, summery blanket.

(Yes, I know the photo is blurry. I'm trying new tricks on my camera and the project has already been turned in...sorry!)

What do you think? To felt or not to felt, that is the question... :-)

If you're unfamiliar with the term - to felt wool means to fluff or bulk it up a little by washing it or rinsing it in warm/hot water and then cool. This causes a little pilling and tightening of the wool, giving a fuzzy appearance and feel.