Category Archives: Selling

A little update…

Hello all 3 of you that are still reading my blog! I kinda got lost with it last year and stopped blogging regularly. It’s harder to do than it looks! I’ve had this blog since I started Looking Glass Designs over 7 years ago and it’s never really taken off. But that’s OK. I don’t want to be known as a blogger.

I have been busy in many ways both personally and professionally in the past year. My son is getting older – he’s 10 now (not sure where that time went) and he’s getting so grown up (sometimes). I knit a shawl for his housemaster who left in December, she decided to move on after almost 22 years at the school as a parent, chorister parent, staff and housemaster. The photos in this post are of that shawl. (and yes,the pronouns are correct!)

Business was OK last year; it didn’t grow as it has for the previous 6 years — but I think that’s down to outside influences like Brexit and a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. It was steady and while I’d have liked my Christmas Rush to have started before Dec 1 I managed even with going away to York for 4 days before Christmas.

I will be starting up another Etsy shop in the next few weeks (see, now that I’ve told you I’ll have to, won’t I?) for reusable, recycled, and upcycled products. I am setting up a new Facebook page for it as well but will still use this blog to show you those items.

Personally, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I am very good at procrastinating – it sometimes feels like it’s my one true talent. I always hesitate to offer new items because I don’t know how well they will do and I don’t like going out of my comfort zone. However I decided to start this new Etsy shop as I have fabric and supplies coming out of my ears and need to use them! I have been looking for testers and have found a couple while making new items for them to test out for me; some will be redundant as they are items others sell, others will be slightly different so I want to get them tested by others as well as me. I plan on having 10 products ready to go when I open up – so keep an eye out as I’ll be running an opening sale!

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have had – or are having – a wonderful Christmas. We had our usual Christmas morning – waiting for son to wake up and then doing stockings and presents before breakfast.

I haven’t been blogging recently; I haven’t had much to say, I guess. I have had a slower year than usual in my online shops; I think people are being more careful with their money and aren’t buying as many ‘wants’ as before. I have had some issues with my arms, shoulders and wrists at times through the year with spending a lot of time knitting and crocheting for orders; I need to increase the time I spend sewing and doing other things or I will have to cut back permanently on the time I spend playing with yarn…

I am opening up a new Etsy shop in the new year, and will be putting one or both of my current Etsy shops on vacation mode to get the new one up and running – I’ll let you know what’s happening soon! Anatomical Knits, Looking Glass Designs ,
Amazon

I do appreciate each and every one of my customers – some will never know how much their reviews, emails and happy comments have uplifted me. This isn’t something I do as a ‘side hustle’, a hobby or to keep me occupied while my husband brings in a paycheque. I craft for many reasons, one of which is my mental health. The joke is ‘I knit so I don’t stab people’ but for many people, crafting helps them with managing their well-being.

Some of the most popular items I sold this year have been my ante-natal teaching aids, camera scarf straps, camera buddies and photo props. Do keep an eye out for more styles and patterns of scarf straps!

Green Daisies Camera Scarf Strap
Blackcurrant dyed Wrap (sold out)
Wrap showing the variations in colour
Tied up as a scarf
Alpaca Chunky Blankets
Tweed Chunky Mini-blanket
Standard Sharp 5″ Interchangeable Gift Set
Pastel Rainbow Breast
Green Stripes

All 3 colours
Rainbow 1
Rocky the Penguin Camera Buddy
Boobs – each one is different….
Happy Caterpillar Camera Buddy
Large Octopus Camera Buddy

Another Batch of Camera Scarf Straps

Here’s another batch of camera scarf straps – I’ve made another since but haven’t managed to get photos done yet. I think the cat print one is my favourite, which is yours? I still can’t decide which design is better – the nylon straps or the adjustable style with keyrings.

Duck Print Scarf Strap – available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Duck Print Camera Scarf Strap
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Cat Print Camera Scarf Strap: available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Cat Print Camera Scarf Strap
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Green Daisies Scarf Camera Strap: available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Green Daisies Camera Scarf Strap
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Hot Pink Floral Scarf Strap: available on Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay.

Pink Floral Scarf Strap
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Making Ante-natal Teaching Aid Sets

The week before last I screwed up. I managed to swap 2 address labels on orders going to France. In 7 years, I’ve done this 2 other times. Usually the buyers are happy to send each other the parcel and I pay them the postage. This time was complicated by the fact that neither buyer spoke English.

It would of course, be the buyer that ordered the more expensive item – an Ante-natal Teaching Aid Set that realised she got the wrong order when she received a skein of yarn. I already knew she was impatient – she ordered a listing with a 2-3 week turnaround time (with a Rush Fee add-on possible) and messaged me 4 days later wanting to know where it was. I sent it 6 days later and 8 days before the processing time was up.

I figured out which orders were swapped and contacted the 2nd buyer. She didn’t respond until the next evening, but before the cut-off I gave myself to remake and send by courier the ante-natal teaching set; I still had to make the set well before that cut-off, so I made it again – in 1 day.

This post shows in-progress photos of making that set, in about 30-40 minute increments. The set was a uterus with a caesarian opening & drawstring top, a placenta, a crochet breast and a drawstring bag. (The drawstring bags are all RTS in the listings that offer them).

In this photo I have knit the ribbing and                               In the next, I’ve made the caesarian  started the body of the uterus:                                                  opening and knit a little more of the                                                                                                                  body of the uterus.

30 minutes
1 Hour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next 2 just show how much more of the body has been made:

90 minutes
140 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I moved onto the decrease section:                             And the uterus mostly finished:

3 hours 15 minutes
4 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I have started on the placenta and:                              Here’s the placenta parts with  added on loops for the button closure.                                 the velcro added.

5 hours 10 minutes
4 hours 35 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The placenta is ready to crochet together.                            This photo shows the finished                                                                                                                              placenta, the uterus w/buttons and                                                                                                                    the crochet breast started.

6 hours 30 minutes
6 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The crochet breast is coming along in the next 2 photos, the uterus only needs ribbon through the drawstring top and ribbing.

7 hours 10 minutes
7 hours 45 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last photo shows the crochet breast almost done – it only needs stuffing and crocheting shut.

8 hours 30 minutes – almost done.

As you can see, they do take a lot of time– and I barely stopped working on the set at all. If I’m working normally on one of these sets, I give myself 2 days to complete them so my hands and arms don’t complain. I know what your question is – Why do I have a processing time of 2-3 weeks if I only need 2 days to make the set? I often have 3-6 uteruses, crochet boobs and sets on order at any one time and if I had a shorter processing time, I would have to work like I did when I made this set – pushing hard to get them made in time. By keeping a longer processing time, I can make sure I never send an order late – and I usually send them in about 5-8 working days, occasionally a little longer.

Back to the mixed up orders. Both buyers sent out the parcels to the correct buyers and I repaid them the cost. Each buyer now has their order & only a few days later than if I’d been on the ball and put the correct address labels on each parcel.

Cheesecloth Wraps

I started dyeing cheesecloth last summer to make wraps to sell and I decided to use only food/plants to dye with. Commercial chemical dyes are expensive and the waste isn’t great for the environment. I’d also need separate bowls, spoons, pots etc. for dying in and I have no where to store extra equipment.

Coffee-dyed Wrap

I dyed using tea, coffee, and blackcurrant juice(sold out) last summer and fall and listed the resulting cheesecloth layers in my Etsy and Amazon shops.

Recently I used turmeric and blackberry juice (see my last post about the blackberry) to dye 6 more pieces of cheesecloth, 4 in turmeric and 2 in blackberry.

Turmeric Wrap
Wrap showing the variations in colour

The turmeric ones, although I used different methods of dying – how long to leave the cloth in for and how long to simmer them too, turned out exactly the same shades. They came out unevenly dyed but I like that, they are unique. The blackberry ones I did separately as I didn’t want to use so many blackberries to be able to cover 2 at a time.

Once I have finished the last few pieces of undyed cheesecloth (if I do) I won’t be dying more. I have enjoyed doing it and seeing what happens – the colours I have achieved and how. The amount of water needed to rinse them out though, is astronomical! The 4 turmeric ones took almost 80L of water to rinse out, and 1 blackberry at least 15L. I want to save water and not use it willy-nilly so I am going to have to decide what to dye the last few Metres of fabric I have – or sell it as is.

Tea-dyed Wrap
Close-up of Tea-dyed Wrap

With the weather being so hot in the last 2 months and basically being in drought conditions, I am far more aware of the water we use both for household use and in our garden and allotment. We have no water left on our allotment, and have been taking 25L at a time down in a large plastic jerry can on a little trolley and have just about been able to keep the few plants we have left on the allotment going. Using a lot more than that to dye a few metres of cheesecloth just doesn’t make sense.

I think I’m going to make up 1 set of the 4 colours I have left and then sell the rest as singles – I’ll pop a post up with the link to that listing when it’s published.

Blackcurrant dyed Wrap (sold out)

Dyeing with Blackberries: A Cautionary Tale

I decided to dye cheesecloth with blackberries this weekend while I had the house to myself. I picked blackberries from the wild canes on our allotment yesterday morning and then used 6 cups of berries with 7 cups of water to cook up the juice.

I brought the water and berries (crushed) to a simmer for 30 minutes, strained out the pulp then put in the prepared cheesecloth. You prep the cheesecloth by soaking it in boiling salted water; the water is a fixative for dyeing in fruit juices. I simmered it for another 30 minutes, then left it in overnight.

I didn’t get photos of it straight out of the pot, but it was the same strong purple as blackberry juice. I started to rinse it, and rinse it and rinse it, changing the water 4-5 times. Eventually I decided to stop as all the red was gone from the cloth and I had a purple-blue shade.

First piece right after rinsing

I hung it up to dry. When I went back to it 20 minutes later it had changed colour again to a grey-purple. I had put in the 2nd piece of cheesecloth in and had simmered that for 30 minutes and it had been about 30 more since I had turned off the stove. I decided to rinse it out now. It was a lovely light purple. I put them side by side and the difference was incredible. I thought I’d take some photos and as I did I realised the 2nd one was already fading in colour.

Just after rinsing the 2nd piece

5 minutes later… I haven’t edited the photos in any way – they were taken outside in cloudy conditions.

5 minutes after hanging the 2nd piece up.

So as you can see, dyeing cheesecloth with blackberries was a dud. I ended up with 2 dull grey pieces of cheesecloth – at least they are right now. As I finish up this post, I looked at the 2nd piece again, and it’s almost completely grey-purple too, just a lighter tint. My advice if you want to try dying using plants, really research which ones make the best dyes!

The Shawl That Took Forever

I started this shawl over a year ago. I started it 3 times, the 3rd time after knitting about 3/4 through. I’m a perfectionist (I think I’ve said this before) and I wasn’t happy with the edge stitches – they were too tight and I thought it might not block flat well.

All wrapped up on my mannequin

It’s an asymmetric triangular shawl in purple & black. There are lace sections and garter stitch stripes and the shawl gets wider as you knit it. I used black for 1 of the lace panels and then finished it off in black once I had used up the purple yarn. Both yarns are a fingering weight yarn in a merino/nylon blend – the black is pure black and the purple is a hand-dyed variegated skein of blackcurrant, magenta and wine (you may have other names for the purples in this yarn!)

Over the shoulders

It’s also huge! The pattern says finished measurements should be 70″ x 17″ and this shawl is 100″ x 30″. For some shawls, bigger is better!

I should try to get a photo of it or 4 spread out but it’s so long, it’s not easy. I enjoyed knitting this pattern; if not frogging it twice…

Wrapped up the other way…

This is a surprisingly warm shawl even though with the lace panels; they really do add a nice contrast to the garter stitch stripes and I think the black border worked out really well too.

The middle section

You can find the shawl here in my Etsy shop, or here on Amazon too. For items over £150 I offer free shipping – Special Delivery in the UK and Signed and Tracked everywhere else.

I have been tempted to keep it for myself, so if this shawl tempts you…. don’t wait to get it!

Hiya Hiya Knitting Needles

As some of you know, I’m a Hiya Hiya stockist selling some their knitting needles, accessories and Gift Sets exclusively on Etsy in my- Hiya Hiya Shop Section. The range is huge, and I’d need to take a new mortgage out to get the full list of crochet hooks, knitting needles, gift sets and accessories that Hiya Hiya make.

Standard Sharp 5″ Interchangeable Gift Set

I’ve found that their bamboo DPN’s are very nice to knit with – smooth and non-snagging. How well they ‘grab’ depends on the yarn you use with them but they are certainly less slippy than metal DPN’s!

Bamboo DPN’s

I like their fixed circulars too – I tend to use them over interchangeables most of the time but do have a few interchangeables. I don’t have any larger Hiya Hiya knitting needles – over 5mm right now so I don’t know how they are different from the ones I use now.

Steel Circulars

If you could add anything to the Hiya Hiya selection here in my Etsy shop, what would you want to see? Comment below and maybe you’ll get a little gift from me!

Inside
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Discontinued Yarns = New Rainbow Boob!

I really get used to using a yarn sometimes – and these yarns have been around for over 5 years, so it was a bit of a shock when I went to order more rainbow acrylic yarns for boobs and the colours I use weren’t available anymore. I sent off an email to the yarn company, but it seems that this yarn is discontinued and what I have left is all I can get.

The most popular Rainbow Breasts
Pastel Rainbow Breast with Simulated Tumour

So…. I had to find another rainbow yarn – or 3. Ice Yarns didn’t have any suitable at the time, so I looked elsewhere. Sirdar has a yarn that’s exactly like the first rainbow yarn I use but it’s 20% wool and a lot more expensive. Boo. I have enquired about being a stockist but I haven’t yet taken it any further as they have salesmen that you have to order through instead of actually just ordering online.

Classic Rainbow Breast
Spring Rainbow Breast

So I kept looking and a few months later, I saw a new rainbow yarn on the Ice Yarns Website. It’s heavier than the other Ice Yarns rainbow yarn by a fair bit but I decided to order it anyway and adjust my pattern. I managed to get a new boob made with it fairly quickly once it arrived with only minimal adjusting of the pattern which was a bonus.

Pastel Rainbow Breast

It’s now available in my Etsy shop HERE!

New Rainbow Breast

I will be looking to have other new rainbow boobs as the current ones finish, but if you love the current ones, you’d better get ordering now, as they won’t be around for much longer! Anatomical Knits

Orange Breast

More New Camera Straps!

Yup, it’s that time again… new items! This time it’s 4 Camera Scarf Straps – 3 with nylon straps and 1 with keyrings and lobster clasps.

The scarf straps are all upcycled from 2nd hand scarves. The kind of camera strap they get made into depends on the material, size and shape. Thicker ones like pashminas get made into non-adjustable straps with nylon strap fittings and I have to work with the thickness and make a larger pleather cover for them than for a thinner scarf. The long, fine scarves are sewn into adjustable straps with keyrings and lobster clasps for fittings. I don’t usually have much trouble with these ones; I’ve made so many now. I have plans to make covers for the straps that come with DSLR cameras; I have some bright and cheerful cottons as well as some patterned Fat Quarters too.

These 4 Camera Scarf Straps are all listed in my Etsy, Amazon and Ebay shops, so you get your pick of where to buy them! BTW, which is your favourite platform to buy from out of the 3?

Butterflies & Birds Scarf Strap

I have 2 available – Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon.

Close-up of Butterfly & Birds

Tan Floral Scarf Strap

This one is OOAK (one-of-a-kind) – Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon.

Close-up of Floral Scarf Strap
Floral Scarf Strap

Green Stripes Pashmina Scarf Strap

There are 2 of this lovely pashmina scarf strap available –Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon.

Close-up of Green Striped Strap
Green Stripes

White Silk Embroidered Scarf Strap

This one is gorgeous, no matter what I tried, my photos do not do it justice – soft white silk with small flowers embroidered on it… Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon.

Close-up

Which is your favourite?