Tag Archives: creating

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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Creating, making, selling, commissions. And copying.

If you’ve been reading my musings on this blog for even a little while, you know I make a lot of my items up from scratch – the camera buddies, the stoles, and cowls, the knitting patterns I offer for free…

I don’t copy, at least knowingly, from other etsy sellers. If someone sends me a photo and asks me to make “this” for them, either the answer is “no”, “I can make something similar but not exactly the same” or ‘buy it from the seller’s already selling it”. Even if I do use a pattern to make something I always change things around on it, so it’s mine, not a cut-out copy of someone else’s idea. I don’t even do that when I follow a recipe, I always make changes.

Last night as I was scrolling down my Instagram feed, I saw someone else’s keepsake cushion. With the font I had spent hours adapting to use on mine. Looking closely at it, it’s not completely exact, but the differences can be put down to looking a photo of the font as opposed to looking at a graph of it.

Eventually I knew I would find someone copying me. And yes, it was actually for someone who asked me for a quote for a keepsake cushion a few weeks ago and then never ordered. It was a very specific story, and a very specific piece of clothing they wanted made into a keepsake cushion. They must have helped themselves to one of my photos and asked this seller to make exactly the same embroidery patch. Which I do sell by themselves if they can’t afford a keepsake cushion made by me.

I messaged the seller, who got very defensive and argumentative. I can’t claim a legal copyright over the font, as it is (heavily) adapted from a magazine almost 20 years old, however I pointed out that she shouldn’t straight out copy others, she should be original and find her own font to use. She claims she found it online, and there are probably cross stitch sites out there that go back and forth and change things around all the time, like musicians who sample bits of each others recordings and change it a little each time.

So, tomorrow, I will be creating a new font to use, from scratch that I can have full copyright to and use both on my keepsake cushions.

Guest Blog Post – Becci Gott’s Decoupage Head Tutorial

Here is another Guest Blog Post, this time from Becci Gott from Bumblebee Lane Crafts on Etsy. She’s written a great post on how to decoupage a mannequin head – I think this would be a great craft to do with old books or vintage comics!

Decoupaged Head Tutorial
Decoupaged Head Tutorial

This tutorial has been a long time in the planning – I took the photos over a year ago with every intention of writing this up over the following weeks. Life always takes over though and it wasn’t until Denise asked about guest bloggers that it gave me a proper kick up the bum to get it all written.

Becci Gott
Becci Gott

First, I feel like I should introduce myself. I am Becci from Bumblebee Lane bumblebeelanecrafts.etsy.com) and I often feel like crafting is in my blood. In my first memory of my best friend, we were about 3 years old and sitting underneath a table together at a craft show that my Mum was hosting in our family home.

From that day forward, a lot of my childhood memories revolve around hanging out at craft shows, meeting my Mum at her craft shop, digging through her buttons and from a very young age, developing my own vocabulary about how certain fabrics feel. I learnt almost everything that I know through watching my Mum, despite not really sitting down with her and learning in any formal way.

I am, however, an anomaly. I am also a massive geek. For 14 years, I worked on a career in data analysis – writing code every day and presenting data in a way that made it easy to understand. In 2014, I made the decision to step away from the 9-5 in order to focus on my creativity and my family.

When I walked away from the structure of the 9-5, I knew that my business would be textile based. I love exploring other crafts but my love of fabric runs deep – at least I now have a great excuse for the fabric stash that I have accumulated over the years.

Craft Show
Craft Show

Although I have now moved to selling entirely through the internet, to start with I was exhibiting at any craft fair that I could fit into my schedule. The thing that you don’t think about when you first start at craft fairs though is that you can’t just lie everything on the table and hope for the best. Your stall needs height and different elements to show you wares off to their best.

Luckily, I have always been a bit of a hoarder, so I was able to add shelving, crates and boxes to give my stall a nice eclectic feel.
Over the various shows, I have also added more and more items, but one of my favourites is my mannequin head. I use it to display eye masks, but it could just as easily be used for displaying hats and hairbands – or even just as a feature in a bedroom. So, without further ado.. here is the tutorial for sprucing up your own polystyrene head!

Materials
Materials

DECOUPAGE HEAD TUTORIAL

Materials
Polystyrene head (I bought mine from eBay for around the £6 mark)
2 x Patterned napkins (again, I bought mine from eBay)
PVA glue
Glue Brush
Old pot / jar

1) Cut your napkins into 1 inch squares (approximate is absolutely fine). I used 2 different designs on the napkins that I used, but made sure that they were similar styles. Using 1 design would also work absolutely fine. You can also buy decoupage paper in craft shops, but I personally like the way that the napkins are pliable around a curved shape.

1: Cut Squares
1: Cut Squares

2) Add some glue to the bottom of your old pot/jar – as I said, I am a hoarder, so have always got jars lying around for this sort of project. Add some water to the glue (about a 1:1 ratio) to thin it up a little and mix. I like to use a foam glue brush for this sort of project, but any soft brush would work just as well.

3) Working with a small area at a time, spread some of the glue mixture over the polystyrene. Start adding your squares of tissue, making sure that the edges overlap.

3: Start
3: Start

4) The messy bit is when you get to the details like the eyes, nose and mouth. You’ll find that you need to get some of the glue mixer onto your fingers to encourage the tissue into the hollows. It is worth taking your time over these bits to make sure that they are perfect!

4: Details
4: Details

5) When you get near to the bottom of the neck, leave to dry for 30 mins – 1 hour.

6) Once dry, add an extra layer of tissue to overlap the bottom. You can completely cover the bottom if you like, but I opted for just the one layer so that it looked great when stood up.

6: Base
6: Base

7) Allow to completely dry, then apply a coat of PVA glue over the whole head to seal the tissue paper and give it a more hard wearing finish. If you prefer a more matte finish, you could apply a matte varnish at this stage instead of the PVA.

7: Sealing Coat
7: Sealing Coat

8) Enjoy your pretty mannequin head!

Enjoy!
Enjoy!

You can find Becci’s products here:

Website: bumblebeelanecrafts.etsy.com
Wordpress: bumblebeelanecrafts.wordpress.com
Facebook: bumblebeelanecrafts
Twitter: twitter.com/bumblebeelanecr
Instagram: instagram.com/becci_gott
Pinterest:pinterest.com/becci_gott

Guest Blog Post – Emma from StanleysMummysmakes

Another guest blog post, this time from Etsy Shop StanleysMummyMakes and Emma Hutchinson. I’ll let her tell you her story….

Emma & Stanley
Emma & Stanley

So here I am, about to turn 36 at the end of the month and writing my first ever blog…scary huh? Firstly let me express my thanks for being given the opportunity to do this and explain that what you are about to read is my internal monologue written down, I have a child under two years old, I spend 90% of my time with him… you could be in for a rocky ride.

The item that started it all... Decoupaged Spoons
The item that started it all… Decoupaged Spoons

This last year has been pretty momentous but in a completely subtle way. No fanfares, party’s or the like but small risks and changes that have turned our family life around.

Decoupaged Cupboard Knobs
Decoupaged Cupboard Knobs

Rewind to Feb 2015 and I was returning to work after my maternity leave…I was both excited, I had loved my job for the last 18 years and secretly I was looking forward to conversations that didn’t revolve around gripe water, nappies and the breastfeeding debate if I’m honest…and sad to be leaving my baby boy at 8 months old but I’d found a fabulous childminder, so far so good!! A few months in though and I was really struggling to keep all the plates spinning, keep a clean tidy home, be a good mum, and give 100% at work…I was often up and out early, and home late. I fell out of love with my job. Then a serious health problem raised its ugly head within my family, and I began thinking that life is too short and that family is THE most important thing. Things changed, slowly at first, I went back to my art and design roots (I studied Art and Design to A Level then Graphic Design and Illustration to degree level)…doodling and crafting became therapeutic but also got me thinking!!

 Decoupaged Trinket Box
Decoupaged Trinket Box

I knew I wanted to finish work and stay at home with Stanley but couldn’t make the figures add up…while I was maternity leave I had made a few items, Christmas wreaths and countdown plaques to sell to family, friends and also to other mums at playgroup etc. I had overheard one of the other mums say ‘Stanley’s mummy makes these’ and for some reason that stuck in my head (mainly because I remember thinking, why do we lose our names when we have children??). Could I make enough by crafting items to supplement me being a stay at home mum?

 Chicken Bunting
Chicken Bunting

I googled like I’d never googled before and decided that Etsy was the platform I wanted to set a store up on. So I did (on Aug 10th ‘15 to be precise) However, I had nothing to put in it an I started to look around for inspiration. Now this is where it gets a bit strange (especially if you are male…my husband STILL doesn’t get it!!) I am a collector of Emma Bridgewater pottery, now there are worse things in life but the way my hubby goes on you wouldn’t think it…so I often found solace in groups of like minded mostly female individuals on Facebook. I like to refer to us as ‘potty people’.

I was flicking through the new Emma Bridgewater catalogue one day and wondered how many other potty people were in my position I.e. lusting after adding to our collections but not having the bank balance to do so? I started experimenting with decoupage using Emma Bridgewater napkins and made myself a set of wooden spoons to display in my kitchen that matched my pots perfectly. One upload of the photos onto Facebook later and I had order requests. A quick email to Emma Bridgewater HQ to make sure I’m not breaking any laws and StanleysMummyMakes was born.

 More spoons...
More spoons…

From then on in things went faster than I’d ever imagined. I suddenly found myself HMRC registered self employed and my notice was handed it. By Oct 12th I was officially running my own business and working from home. BUT, the most important thing is that I get to spend time raising Stanley!!
Let’s be clear, I make nowhere near what I was bringing he from my old job but I can work around Stanley, we are saving on childcare, our quality of life is better due to a work/life balance and I’m able to contribute towards household bills and family expenses.

I love what I make, I would only sell items that I am willing to have in my own home. I have had return customers and some fabulous feedback and I’m pleased as punch with how things are going.

Bunting
Bunting

Now, if you are reading this and wondering whether to set up on Etsy or not, I would say to you do it… you might just surprise yourself!! However, a word of caution… don’t just expect to sit back and watch the sales come rolling in. It’s hard work, and I mean bloody hard work!! Right at the beginning I mentioned a birthday looming, well at the ripe old age of 35 (what’s that, but you look so young in your photo?;-)) I’ve had to educate myself in all things social media…not an easy task. Google has become my best friend…WIDN, SEO’s, pins, tweets, likes and followers. Networking is my middle name. My phone has become my bank, diary, business planner, and social life. If you are willing to put in the hours and workload you will see results. I have had just over 250 sales through Etsy and my products are now stocked in a local Tearooms – the Yard Tearooms (Instagram.com/theyardtearooms). I am running my own business, I now watch sales figures and margin more than I ever did when I was working in retail. I am the boss (and I’ve got an Emma Bridgewater cup to prove it!!)

How did that happen?
Thanks for reading!!

Emma

Find me at:
Etsy Shop: StanleysMummyMakes
Instagram: stanleysmummymakes
Facebook: StanleysMummymakes
Pinterest Pinterest

Stockist:
The Yard Tearooms, 16-18 Getliffes Yard, Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 6HU

Guest Blog Post – Etsy Shop Hopetheblackdog

Another guest blog post – the first in a short series featuring UK Etsy Shops.

This first shop is Hopetheblackdog and is owned by (or is it the shop that owns the person?) Amy Alice Donoghue from Nottingham. She’s opted to answer a few questions about her and her etsy shop. (Click on the captions to see the item’s listing).

Amy
Amy

Hi! I’m Amy, 26, from hope the black dog, and I live in Nottingham with my fiancé and two pet rats called Marie and Rosa. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and I love teaching myself new crafts. Winston Churchill used to call his mental illness “a black dog” when he was suffering with depression and bipolar disorder. I wanted to take this imagery and make it more positive, so I took that black dog and I named it hope! I find a lot of inspiration from quotes, Instagram, Pinterest, The Mighty website and personal stories for my crafting.

 Floral Pendant
Floral Pendant

I started making items for the shop in December 2015, and finally worked up the courage to list anything in January 2016. I was signed off from work for a long time, initially because of my anxiety, but it transpired that it was more than that and I’ve been undergoing extensive testing ever since (not great for my needle phobia!). Since I was off for such a long time, I wanted to make it meaningful and contribute some good in some way. I decided to make items that promoted positive mental health, and donate £1 from any sales to Mind Charity.

 Floral Embroidery Kit
Floral Semicolon Embroidery Kit

My favourite item in my shop is my “Anxiety is My Super Power” cross stitch kit because even though it has been difficult, exhausting and life-changing to live with Anxiety it has also been the driving force in a lot of my greatest achievements. It’s a mixed bag and I think a lot of people with mental health problems can see the duality.

Anxiety is my Superpower Embroidery Kit
Anxiety is my Superpower Embroidery Kit

The best thing has been meeting so many people who have been touched by the work I am doing. I have met so many wonderful people who felt comfortable enough to open up about their mental health, and so many wonderful people who want to support me to do more. It’s been such a whirlwind of emotion!

 Floral Semi colon Pendant
Floral Semi colon Pendant

I do find it frustrating waiting for funds. I am trying to run this business from the half pay that I am currently on, and so when I have great ideas, or run out of stock, it means I have to wait for a sale or another pay day. It’s frustrating! I have to make a lot of lists. When I’m not working on Hopetheblackdog, I love to knit and crochet, read and eat.

 This too shall pass
This too shall pass

The best piece of advice I can give if you’re like me and want to start your own etsy shop: START would be the main piece of advice. Don’t wait for divine intervention, just begin. Good things take time and the sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits.

SHOP Hopetheblackdog

BLOG Hopetheblackdog

INSTAGRAM – hopetheblackdog

FACEBOOK Hopetheblackdog

TWITTER h0petheblackdog

PINTEREST hopetheblackdog

Soft Grey Cowl

Here’s my latest cowl.

All buttoned up ©Looking Glass Designs
All buttoned up ©Looking Glass Designs

It’s small, soft and cosy with some lovely black & grey buttons. I knit it in a new pattern with a 100% wool Italian yarn called Regina by Adriafil. It’s a lovely, fine and soft wool yarn in a very pretty grey (I seem to gravitate towards greys for some reason!)

Just over the shoulders
Just over the shoulders ©Looking Glass Designs

I really like this cowl – perfect to fit under a coat collar, not bulky but I’m sure it’s very warm. You could also pop it on top of a loose collared jumper or sweater, or even a T-shirt. It would even scrunch up into a pocket and still look great when pulled back out again.

What would you pair it with?

2 Buttons
2 Buttons ©Looking Glass Designs

Grey Bamboo Stole/Scarf

This is the same pattern as the chenille lace scarf that was in my Etsy shop and did sell, but had a *teeny* tiny mishap. So I made the buyer a new one in a different yarn – a bamboo/acrylic blend in the same colour.

Grey Lace Stole
Grey Lace Stole

I love this scarf even more than the chenille one, so added it to my Etsy shop this morning. I wish you all could have a feel – the scarf is soft and cosy, with a lovely grey almost tweed effect colour. You can get the same yarn here in my Yarn Shop – Bamboo Classic Yarn if you’d like to make your own scarf in the same lovely yarn.

The scarf blocked beautifully and will be on its way to a new home today. I really hope she loves it as much as I do!

Bamboo Scarf
Bamboo Scarf
Close-up of pattern
Close-up of pattern

Christmas Holidays

Today is the last day to send post to the USA and Canada by Royal Mail. I usually have most of my Christmas orders finished and done by now except for UK orders as of course they can be sent to about the 21st or so and still just squeak in there to arrive for Christmas.

Camera Chick

I have been busier than last year; even discounting the wholesale order I had. I really do appreciate all my customers who have liked the look of my items enough to order – each one gives me such a boost! I do find it slightly odd that few people ever use the discount codes I offer regularly through the year as well as the one I give to repeat buyers.

Purple Bracelets
Purple Bracelets

I plan on more body parts in the New Year and more designing. I find I do enjoy making up my own patterns and also that I can design knits that people want to make. I also plan on getting through some of my fabric stash with some home decor items like boxes and placemats as well as coasters and neck pillow & eye mask sets.

I also plan on reworking one of the more popular patterns – the Dino Hood. I would like a more elegant pattern without seams on the top, so will be playing with it so it doesn’t have the seams. I will also be adjusting the stuffed spikes so they aren’t so heavy – the one I made came back to me for adjusting as it kept slipping back off the little one’s head.

New Dino Hood
New Dino Hood
Roar!
Roar!

My next post will be a Christmas Recipe for Roasted Nuts!

Coming up with New Ideas… and new Photos!

I’m working on adding new items to my shops. It’s not something I am fast at; usually once an item gets made it sits for a while. Usually because I’m waiting for the weather to be good enough for me to take photos. I have lots of ideas, but I”m not good at organising my self to get them made…. If you create, how do you organise yourself? I get sidelined by real life, new orders, lack of motivation and inspiration as well as occasionally getting sucked into the internet…

Ravelry is great for that; I can end up browsing patterns and reading on the forums for hours. I also read online about how to market and network my business, but it seems they all contradict themselves, which leaves me not really sure what I should be doing….. But I just chat away on my Facebook page and Twitter, and hope I don’t bore people to death. If you are successful at interacting online, what’s your trick? How do you get your followers/likers to talk back to you?

New Photos

I’ve taken a photography workshop recently and have made some backdrops to use when I photo my items – some of them have already been retaken and updated in my listings. I planned on getting the rest of the items I have ready to ship done this week, but having all 3 of us ill all week put paid to that idea. If you go on my Facebook Page Scarf Photos, you’ll see that I’m offering free postage if you order through my page by messaging me.

Silver Grey metallic ruffle scarf
Silver Grey metallic ruffle scarf
Ombre infinity Bias Cowl
Ombre infinity Bias Cowl
Pink, red & white ruffle scarf
Pink, red & white ruffle scarf
Pink, green, orange and green ruffle scarf
Pink, green, orange and green ruffle scarf
Yellow, green and tan ruffle scarf
Yellow, green and tan ruffle scarf
Pink, navy & black ruffle scarf
Pink, navy & black ruffle scarf
Purple Bobble Scarf
Purple Bobble Scarf
Short Blue & purple ruffle scarf
Short Blue & purple ruffle scarf
Long Blue & purple ruffle scarf
Long Blue & purple ruffle scarf

So tomorrow, I’ll be trying out the 2 smaller backdrops I made to use with my smaller items. I’ve also been working on 2 new girl’s wraps and some crochet heart pendants to make necklaces with. I need to get the wraps photographed on my friend’s 7 year old, and listed. The hearts may get done on Wed. when a friend is coming by with some chains for testing out with the pendant…

Crochet Heart
Crochet Heart

How to Knit. Really. Part 2

Ok, so we’ve left our heroine having knitted and sent off the flubberbuff. How did she (I) get that far along?

Well, I started off with ordering the yarn the customer picked out and getting it in the post. Then…. well, the yarn wasn’t quite right for the pattern, too thin. You can double up yarns and knit or crochet with 2 strands held together.

But the yarn for the flubberbuff was then too thick and came out too stiff. So…. off to the local shops to find a thinner yet yarn to match up. Then off back home to knit up a swatch. For those of you that don’t knit, a swatch is a square/rectangle you knit in the pattern needed to see if you knit to the same size as in the pattern. You need to match the “gauge”, usually marked out as a 4″ square – XX rows by YY stitches = 4″. This needs to be bigger than 4″ – some knitters knit a 8″ square. If you don’t, you could end up with an item that is too big or too small. Sometimes it doesn’t matter too much – for a simple scarf perhaps, but usually it does, even a small bit out on a large item can mean it’s inches too big or too small…

These can take several hours to make if the pattern is complicated.

IMG_5125a

Then depending on the yarn, you wash it as you’d wash the item, then pin it to a towel, wait until it’s dry and then measure 4″ across and 4″ high to see if you’ve got the gauge you need. This can take a day or so to dry. If it’s right, you thank the knitting gods. If it’s wrong, you decide whether you need to try again with larger needles or smaller ones. Too many stitches in your 4″ square = next size up, fewer stitches = next size down. If using acrylic or mostly acrylic yarns, you can skip the washing step and just pin it out to measure.

Sometimes you just can’t get the gauge, so you have to regauge (rework) the pattern to fit your swatch’s gauge. This is when you need a clear head, a coffee, pen and paper, a calculator and a swear words box. Or you can google (like I did) and use this page: Sweater conversion Page I’ve used the top 2 sections, and ignored the bottom part as I don’t usually knit sweaters.

So once you’re happy you are going to knit in the right size, however you’ve got there, you start on the item! To get to this stage took me several days. I had knit up 3 swatches in the right pattern, washed, pinned and let dry. It took me 2 1/2 days to complete the flubberbuff, staying up late, to get it off to the customer as quickly as possible. Then I packaged it up, praying it would fit, as I never got proper measurements, and sent it off.

I moved on to other orders. 9 days after sending it, I got an email from my customer….

They say: Hi there! How’s the flubberbuff coming on? If it’s not done yet, can you send it to another address?

I say: It was sent off 9 days ago, you should be getting it soon. Please let me know when it arrives. Give it another 10 days and if it hasn’t arrived, I’ll make another or send you a refund, whichever you’d prefer, and claim off Royal Mail.

They say: Oh, OK, you didn’t tell me it was sent already!

I say: I sent you a dispatch notification, did you get it?

They say: I saw an email from you, didn’t bother to open it! What do you mean by Royal Mail?

I say: I’m in the UK and post out with Royal Mail.

They say: OH! I didn’t know you weren’t at the South Pole! I’ve never had anything come from the UK before!

I say: Please let me know when you get your flubberbuff.

3 days later:

They say: It’s arrived! It looks like it will fit! Thanks so much! My son will love it!

I say: Great, thanks very much for your order.

Another 5 days later:

They say: I gave it to him, it’s lovely, but the flubberbuff too big! What can we do?

I say: I’m sorry it doesn’t fit. I’m happy to make another flubberbuff and send it to you once I’ve received the bigger one back, if you are happy to pay postage to return the one you have and for me to send you the new one.

They say: Thanks so much for being understanding. How long will it take for the new one to arrive?

I say: I can’t send it until I get the bigger one back and receive payment for the postage. Here is the link for the postage (inserts link here)

4 days later:

I say: Here’s the link for the postage: (inserts link here). Thanks very much.

They say: I’ll pay for the postage when the new hat is ready.

I think, ‘Hmmmm…… ‘

And then wait for the flubberbuff to arrive back. A month later it does….. smelling of Febreeze/aftershave/perfume/dirty socks….

What do I do then? Well, let the customer know the item has been returned but smells…