I have finally managed to re-wallpaper my background board, it was looking a bit ratty. I had to wait until the weather got better- wet weather and wallpapering don’t mix very well. I used the same wallpaper, so no change there.
The first things I photographed using it were these neutral chunky mini-blankets – I also moved where I take photographs, so hopefully the lighting will be better. These came out well, I had to adjust the white balance and exposure a little, but I usually do. These were knit using 15mm needles and super-chunky yarn. It felt like knitting with broom sticks and rope, after the 4mm needles and fingering yarn I’ve been knitting shawls with!
There are 3 colours – cream, grey and light brown. They are perfect for layering under a newborn or popping under a sitter. These are great photography props! Each one is available in my Etsy Shop. Which is your favourite colour? I think mine’s the grey…
I’ve had this lace stole pattern knit up in a bamboo worsted weight yarn for several years, and the people who have bought them all love them – they are soft, squishy and warm. A bonus is that as they are grey, they go with almost anything.
I had a request from a bride in the US for 4 of them, but the yarn is discontinued, as I’ve posted before, and I don’t have enough left for 4. So I looked for another grey yarn, and found 2. One was an alpaca/merino blend and the other a wool/acrylic blend. The alpaca/merino was much thinner than the wool/acrylic, but I held it double and knitted up a small sample of each yarn in the pattern then took photos for my buyer-to-be. She picked one and I gave her a quote, with courier shipping and she bought them.
It took me about 6 weeks to knit them – the yarn is thinner than the old yarn, but there is more in the skeins, so the pattern got adjusted slightly to make sure it was as wide as she wanted them to be.
These stoles are approx. 19″ wide and 84″ long – considerably longer than the old stole, but as they are finer, they are the same weight and don’t feel too long when you wear one.
The buyer loved them and couldn’t wait to give them to her bridesmaids! I love it when I get an email from a happy buyer!
She wrote: “I got the Shawls today, they’re lovely!!! I love them & cant wait to give them as a gift to my bridesmaids! Thank you so much for all of you help.
I’ll have to try and remember to send you a picture from our wedding this September with the girls wearing them :-)”
Here they are, and the new stole will be in my Etsy Shop shortly!
I’ve been offering this Grey Lace Stole almost since I opened my shop on Etsy and it’s been a decent seller for me. The yarn is now discontinued and I have to decide whether to source another yarn for the pattern or find a different yarn and pattern combo to offer. I have enough yarn left for 1 more stole.
I base what I offer for sale on several things; what yarn I can get and what I want to make to sell in my shop are two. I have tended to go for thicker/chunkier yarns as they knit up faster, and how long something takes to make is a factor in whether or not I’ll make it to sell.
Some knit/crochet items I find don’t sell well, and I sell a few then stop listing it, other items sell very well only at certain times of the year. (My Herringbone Handwarmers come to mind here!)
I prefer to use natural fibres and blends and not just 100% acrylic – they tend to be nicer to knit with, and can last longer without pilling. As I now have a knitting machine, I’m hoping to offer items using finer luxury yarns and bigger items such as larger lace stoles and wraps. I have to master the machine first!
I don’t tend to jump on trends like the ‘pussy hats’ or the polo neck rectangular ponchos with cables and large buttons for toddlers, I am careful about ending up with (more) yarns and materials that I won’t use if they don’t sell.
I’d like to introduce you to the lovely Shirley Woosey from Whimsey Woo Designs on Etsy and Folksy. She is today’s guest blogger and makes the prettiest book covers and miniatures for dolls’ houses that can be found her 2 etsy shops.
I’ll let her tell you a little about herself and her shops:
Tell us a bit about you
I am in my early sixties now, the Mother of two grown up children and I have one 3 year old grandson.
How did you decide on the name for your shop?
My surname is Woosey and I wanted to use the “Woo” part in my shop name. I tried various combinations of words but decided on Whimsy because I though it suited the fabrics I use and went well with Woo. So Whimsy Woo Designs was born.
How long has your shop been open and why did you start?
My Etsy shop has been open since May 2011 but my Folksy shop opened a few months earlier in January 2011. I needed a creative outlet for my sewing and the amount of fabrics I had stashed.
What is your favourite item in your shop at the moment?
Currently this is my favourite item: It’s a large Bible or Book Cover made from a gorgeous piece of green and gold vintage kimono silk from Japan.
What made you start?
I have always loved fabrics and find I can’t resist beautiful and unusual ones. When I was quite young, under 10 years old, my Granny taught me to sew book covers for my school books. These used to have carry handles. I always loved making them but over the years I have evolved them. They are more popular now without the handles and have an elastic loop and button fastening.
About 5 years ago I thought I would make some as Christmas presents for friends and family. They were a great hit and I needed something to do which was creative. My job in accountancy was becoming more and more frustrating and I needed to do something else to relax. My daughter suggested selling on Folksy and I soon discovered Etsy as well and after 2 years I was able to give up my accountancy job and concentrate on Whimsy Woo Designs.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My original inspiration for sewing and crafts definitely comes from my Granny who was a trained milliner in her youth. Now my inspiration comes from beautiful fabrics which are created in the United Kingdom if possible, especially Harris Tweed. The tweed comes in all sorts of bright colours and is very contemporary. One I especially like is this Pink Harris Tweed.
I also love Art Nouveau and vintage designs. I have managed to find several vintage fabrics from around the world over the last few years. I especially love vintage kimono fabrics from Japan. The warehouses in Tokyo and Kyoto have many bolts of silk and yukata cotton fabrics which have been stored for 40 to 50 years. These are unused and have the most beautiful patterns and pictures on them. I tend to buy fabrics which I like myself because I know I will enjoy sewing them.
What do you love the most about running your own business?
The best thing is being my own boss. If I want to spend all day in my pyjamas, just pottering around my craft room, then I can do. It gives you an enormous amount of freedom.
What do you love the least?
My least favourite thing is editing my photos and putting listings on my websites. I would far rather be sewing or choosing fabrics.
What other things do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love to read. I can always find a little time to read, even if it is only a few pages a day.
I also love dolls’ house miniatures and hand stitch miniature rugs and carpets. Some of these are for sale in my other Etsy shop, Whimsey Woo Miniatures along with other miniature textiles I have made. I have my own 4 storey dolls’ house which I am slowly decorating and filling with furniture and rugs.
As my husband is now retired and my Etsy shops are not as busy in summer time we take the opportunity to get away as often as possible in our motorhome. We love to go to Scotland and across to Europe. My favourite places to stay are in the mountains and I also find time when travelling to look out for more fabrics for my book covers.
What would be the one piece of advice would you give to a person setting up their own shop?
The best advice I can think of is to take the best photographs you can of your craftwork. Remember if you are selling on the internet then the customer can only judge by the pictures. They can’t pick the items up to look and feel them. And do make something you enjoy doing.
Thank you, Shirley!
You can find Shirley and Whimsey Woo Designs here:
I have these crochet mannequin heads listed in my etsy shop in white and black and last week I was contacted about making 2 in another colour, ‘natural’. When queried, she meant an oatmeal/light tan colour. These are used as product photography props for 6-12 month hats. I have made other sizes, but have to refine them.
So I knew where I could get an oatmeal colour yarn quickly and set up a custom listing for the customer, and bought the yarn when I was picking son up from school. I had to adjust the pattern as it was for a heavier yarn – more increases, more rows, smaller hook size but not a difficult re-write…
I think I’m going to list this new colour in my shop, and then offer the patterns with kits with the corresponding black/white/oatmeal yarns… but first the crochet mannequin heads themselves!
I have finally had a chance to make a new camera buddy – an Elephant! I have to get decent photos of it on my camera before I list it, but here are some quick shots I took in front of my usual wallpaper background.
She’s a lovely grey colour with large bright pink ears, a long trunk and fits on a standard size lens to 23cm in circumference. She’s now been added to my etsy shop Here!
Another guest blog post, this time from Etsy Shop StanleysMummyMakes and Emma Hutchinson. I’ll let her tell you her story….
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.
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.
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!!
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?
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.
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.
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!!)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.