Friday, January 30, 2009

Warm Ewe Up: Blog Question #3

Time for the new "Warm Ewe Up" swap question:
What is your favorite way to keep warm when it’s snowing outside? (And if you live in a warm weather climate, what would you do to stay warm and cozy while it’s snowing?)

This winter has been has been the coldest and snowiest that I can remember for a very long time. Southern Michigan usually has grey winters -- lots of snow-less days or partially melted slush. But we've probably had a full month of below freezing weather. So every time we get snow, it stays on the ground. At this point, it's up to your knees. And, as much as it's a really cold winter, I've been enjoying the beauty of it. It's like living in a Christmas card.

I love to be inside when it's snowing like mad outside. On those days where they're predicting 6-10 inches (or more) and it just snows and snows for hours.

What do I like to do on those days? Well, I'm such a lover of creature comforts, everything has to do with that. Knitting. A pot of hot tea (or a mug of cocoa). Movies. Wearing my wooly slippers with soft, warm sweatpants and several layers of sweaters. Warming up by the woodstove when I get chilled. Making soup. Kitties on my lap.

There's something so seductively comforting about being warm and snug indoors when it's snowing outside.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Aretha's Hat

One of the stars of Tuesday's inauguration was Aretha Franklin's wonderful hat. I'm a fan of hats, and this one is magnificent.

I want it.

A number of years ago (5? 6? 7?) in my other life, the museum where I worked hosted an exhibition based on the book, "Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats." That's what I immediately thought of when I saw this terrific hat. It's a known fact that church hats for African-American women are the best. And Aretha's hat is a prime example.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Stone Soup Challenge

Every year when I was a Cubmaster (when Tommy was younger), the pack and I would retell the story of Stone Soup and make a big pot of soup. And, of course, it would always begin with a stone.

The boys and their families loved the tradition of it. They enjoyed hearing the story of a town that worked together to produce something bigger than their individual parts. And they loved the great soup we made!

Now Laura of Katydiddy has issued a challenge to the art community based on the story of Stone Soup. The idea is to commit to purchase from other independent artists. She is asking folks to pledge a certain percentage of their shop's profits each month to purchase something from another artist's shop.

Since the main reason I opened my shop was to support my art/craft supplies habit and to allow me to purchase an occasional item from Etsy, this is not difficult for me at all! Basically it's just asking me to formalize this commitment. And with the amount that I spend on Sneak Attacks, I'm already there!

So here's my commitment:
I pledge to spend a minimum of 50% of my profits with other independent artists/shops. And further, I pledge to purchase a minimum of one item per month from one of the other shop owners who have taken The Stone Soup Challenge.

How about you?

Here's what you need to do to participate:
* Decide how much you will commit to spending each month. Laura suggests 10% to 25% of your shop's profits. I'm pledging more because I know I already spend more!
* Visit The Stone Soup Challenge website and leave a comment regarding your pledge
* Blog about the challenge

That's it!

When we work together, everyone benefits.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Colors of Flickr

I just learned of this website where you can search Flickr's most "interesting" photos by color. You create a mosaic with your color choices. Check it out!

Yep, more ways to waste time on the 'net....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Manic Monday #151

Today's questions from Manic Monday:

What do you do to make yourself feel better when you are sick?
Wear soft, comfy clothing. My wooly slippers. A pot of hot tea. Watch old movies. Sit in a comfortable chair. Knit.

What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?
We're having interesting weather right now -- lots of snow and very cold temperatures. We live in a tornado area and I've seen edges of a tornado -- amazing and scary in its power and randomness.

Do you listen to music or talk radio in the car?
I mostly listen to NPR, but just got a new car* (a few months ago) with a CD player. So I'm really enjoying listening to CDs too!

*a cute little red (the color of our Staccato wine) 2009 Saturn Vue hybrid. I love it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ruby Goes Overboard

My spoiler from the Warm Ewe Up swap, Ruby Colorway,* sent me a note today suggesting that she might've gone overboard with my first swap package. Yep, she did. And I just love it all!

Her package contained several goodies from my various wish lists. But best of all, she bought lots of wonderful surprises based on what she's learned about me. And I love surprises!

First photo: all sorts of vintage goodies. Smart Knitting magazine from Summer 1947, The Budget Cook Book (ca. 1935), a cute notecard made with a vintage illustration, and a gorgeous selection of the softest silk ribbons I've ever felt...

Second photo: a vintage basket, reusable shopping bag from Whole Foods, and three skeins of Mulberry Merino in a beautiful dark blueberry and two skeins of Noro Cashmere Island in purples, pinks, and aqua.

Third photo: The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life (I've been wanting it for a while), striped ribbon, and two sets of handmade earrings (both of the sort that I'll wear a lot).

Thanks Ruby. What a wonderful treat to warm me up!

*best nom de knit ever!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Universal Letter Writing Week

We're at the tag end of Universal Letter Writing Week. The 2nd week in January is a great time to catch up with a letter or two to a friend.

When is the last time you wrote a letter? How about receiving one?

We tend to write a lot nowadays but so much of it is in an email. Instant gratification. But what about the physical pleasures of a handwritten letter? Lovely, smooth paper. A great pen. A special envelope. Your own handwriting (how many of your friends have never even seen your handwriting?). The time you took to sit down and write the note. A beautiful commemorative stamp or two.

Take the time soon and write a letter. The recipient will be thrilled.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Warm Ewe Up: Blog Question #2

The current blogging question for the Warm Ewe Up swap:
If you could only knit or crochet with one brand of yarn for the rest of the year, what would it be and why?

I thought about this a bit. Do I pick my favorite yarn? And what, in fact, is that? But I decided to go with my first instinct...

This is not my favorite yarn, but it is my favorite overall yarn. It's the most versatile yarn I've ever used, and comes in a huge range of colors. I could use it for an entire year and pretty much make anything I wanted to make (I couldn't do without felting for a whole year!)....

My choice? Cascade 220. 'Nuf said.

EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival: New Year Goals for My Shop

Rather than making monumental goals for the New Year, I try to come up with lots of smaller, more do-able goals.

This is the case with my Etsy shop as much as it is with me personally.

The goals tend to be ideas I'd like to implement. Here are a bunch that have been rolling around in my head. Take a look, and we'll look back in a few months and see how many actually got implemented.

*Make more stuff. That's easy to understand why. It's great to have some old favorites, but shops always need NEW stuff to keep them fresh and interesting.

*Expand the line of items I make for knitters. It's a natural connection -- off Etsy, I'm a pretty passionate knitter. I don't know if I'll ever sell any knitted items (possibly), but I love the idea of a whole line of goodies that cater to knitters. So in addition to the current ones (notecards made with recycled knitting catalogs and stitch markers), I'm think of more stitch markers, cute covered tape measures, knitting-related rubber stamps, and possibly some needle holders for circular needle sets. I recently received the Harmony circular set from KnitPicks (love them!) and would like to develop a holder specifically for them.

*Once I have the knitting items added to the shop, maybe do a little advertising on Ravelry? I've never actually paid for an ad, but this is probably the best way to start. They certainly are the perfect targeted audience.

*Oh, and start donating $1 from each set of stitch markers that I sell to Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

*Keep expanding the line of hand-carved rubber stamps. I enjoy making them and they sell well. They're a natural for expansion.

*Now that Etsy has finally connected up with Google Analytics, I need to take advantage of that information.

*Try to add more items made with upcycled materials.

*I'm making a limited-edition 'zine for a swap and will have some for sale in the shop. The subject? Currently a secret. Check back at the end of the month for more details.

*Redo my "Categories." Right now, they're sorted by media. I'm gonna try sorting by subject matter to see if it's more interesting. But if it's less useful, I'll go back to the traditional way of sorting.

*Change up my banner and avatar regularly. Of course, stick with a recognizable look. But keep it interesting by highlighting different items, holidays, etc. So far, I've done this (see the banner at the top of this post), but need to keep it up.

*Keep up with LinkReferral. I'm not sure that I've seen any specific sales from it, but it sure gets a lot of folks to view my shop. Since that's my main problem with Etsy -- the needle-in-a-haystack syndrome -- anything that gets eyes into my shop is a good thing.

*Speaking of problems with Etsy, the painfully-hip-twentysomethings-in-Brooklyn thing is starting to get on my nerves. They're so horribly exclusive in so much of what they do. But they do have the traffic -- so I need to keep playing their game. However, I also need to put some energy into trying one or more of the alternative sites. So I'm thinking of trying 1000Markets, ArtFire, and FunkyFinds. Will you visit me there?

*This is not part of my shop, but it's certainly related. My art/craft room desperately needs cleaning and reorganization. It's overflowing and needs some rethinking (along with a whole lot of cleaning). I'm too skeered to show you a "before" picture, but will show an "after" one if there ever is an "after..."

Whew! Is that it? Well, check back later and see how much I actually accomplish....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

EtsyBlogger of the Month: Roseworks Jewelry

Another active and enthusiastic member of the EtsyBloggers team, Ruthie of Roseworks Jewelry is the featured blogger of the month for January.

Ruthie's shop is filled with fun, affordable little bobbles made with beads and wire or hemp. I love how she shows some of the off by draping them on a frosted glass hand mannequin... great presentation!

You can tell she has a good time creating her treasures -- everything just looks like it was made with love.

To find out more about her, visit her blog: Roseworks Jewelry.

And it you're looking for a cute little affordable gift (even if it's for yourself!), her shop is the perfect place!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Have You Sent Out Your 'Thank You' Notes?

We just finished a month filled with holidays. Have you sent out 'thank you' cards for the gifts you received?

The EtsyGreetings team is currently running a special promotion on 'thank you' cards. Buy from any of the featured sellers and get free postage on any packs of 'thank you' cards! The promotion runs from January 5 through 15.

There are oodles of cards available -- the right design and feel for just about everyone. And doesn't a handmade card say "thank you" even better than one from a big impersonal corporation?

Shouldn't you order some right now? Go on, do it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Giveaway at Funky Finds

So Jess @ Funky Finds and I have been conspiring... and this is the result!

We are offering a $25 gift certificate to my shop for the winner of the current giveaway on the Funky Finds site. Visit the Funky Finds site for details. All you have to do to qualify is to visit my Etsy shop and return to Funky Finds where you leave a comment about your favorite item in my shop.

The giveaway runs from now through January 8 (midnight CST). At the end of that time, Jessica will draw a winner.

Good luck!