Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Featured EtsyBlogger: DizzyDragonflies

First off, let me apologize for being so scarce lately.  I'm afraid the blog's temporarily taken a backseat.  I've been super busy setting up my new work area/home office (yay!), trying to get it--and the rest of my life--organized, and doing some serious fiction writing (or at least plotting).  So, pardon my impromptu vacation.  I'll be back in full force soon!

In the meantime, let me introduce you to this month's featured EtsyBloggers team member, DizzyDragonflies!

Dizzy's specialty is hand-dyed yarn and knitted items. Let me show you some of the knitting before I get tangled up in the yarn...

Doesn't this look cozy? And pretty! I love the black and white and grays. Very classy. But if you prefer more color, check out Dizzy's shop. She has a couple of other beautiful scarves, and all just ten bucks! You know you're gonna want one next winter. Plan ahead! Snag one now!

Now, if you're a knitter/crocheter/yarn junkie, like myself, you're probably going to have a hard time getting to the bottom of the page without getting distracted by all that gorgeous hand-dyed yarn. In fact, I think I just felt a small breeze from the collective turning of heads. Careful, Knitters. You'll give yourselves whiplash.

Here. Let me show you a few of my favorites...

This vibrant beauty is called "Turn it Down a Notch," but I like it right where it is. I'm usually not fond of orange, but I have to admit it looks just beautiful here mixed in with those fiery reds. Like all of Dizzy's yarns, this one is 100% wool, so it's suitable for felting. And I think this one would look especially gorgeous that way.

Perfect Project for This Yarn: Felted bag. Or a long, fluttery scarf (makes me think of phoenix feathers).

Now, moving on to something a bit more demure...

"A Little Bad for the Girl" is the name of this one, and how appropriate. It's definitely girly with its pretty pink and soft gray. But something about the contrast is... well, a little bad. This is the girl that sneaks out of ballet class to have a smoke behind the studio.

Perfect Project for This Yarn: Fingerless gloves or armwarmers.

And last, but certainly not least:

This one is simply and evocatively entitled "Orchid" and was inspired by an actual orchid that Dizzy had blooming in her kitchen. Isn't that great? Dizzy's done such a wonderful job of capturing the colors here that I can just see that original orchid. In fact, I almost feel like this yarn ought to be used to make flowers, to bring it full circle.

Perfect Project for This Yarn: Aside from flowers, I think this would make a really lovely shawl or maybe a shrug. Something to wear in spring.

I could go on and on about these gorgeous yarns in all these beautiful colors, but my fingers would get tired eventually. So I shall stop here. Now off you go to look at the rest. Go on, now. Shoo!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Motivator: Shopping!

A lot of our weekends involving some sort of shopping.  And whether we buy anything or not, we always have a blast.  So this weekend was no different.  We shopped, we had fun... and we totally hit the jackpot.

We finally made it to the art supply store we'd been wanting to go to for a while and were pleasantly surprised by their selection.  They had the vast array of traditional media we expected (which got us to talking about doing some painting), but they also had a lot of stuff we didn't expect to find.  A pretty awesome selection of calligraphy supplies, for instance.  Calligraphy and I became close friends when I was about 12, but ours has been a very on again, off again sort of relationship simply because calligraphy supplies are not all that easy to find.  But with this place around...  *insert maniacal laughter here*

So I grabbed a much needed bottle of ink, a really awesome "calligraphy journal" which features some really pretty papers and a very handy guideline page.  No more tedious ruling for me!  Woohoo!  I also grabbed a couple of calligraphy markers for practice and lazy days and quickie projects.  And maybe also nostalgia.  I had a set of these years ago that I used all the time for signing and addressing cards (I was the official family scribe). 

I was almost equally excited by their selection of polymer clay--something else I have previously been unable to find around here.  I mentioned back in my New Year's post that I intended to make some polymer clay jewelry, and now that I know where I can get my clay, that's far more likely to actually happen. 

Now, that would have been enough right there to make my day.  But we weren't done yet.  We also found a new yarn store, where I picked up the set of size 10 DPNs I needed to finish up Kitty's hat and, from the totally-not-yarn-related-but-still-awesome section of the store, a really freakin' cool tea cup from Tea Forte.  We visited a few antique shops along the way, as well, and added to our vintage glove and apron collections.  We even found a nifty stand on which to display some of our gloves.  It's currently sitting on the dresser and it looks smashing.  now, we just need a cool way to display our aprons...

And then we headed to Big Lots.  If you don't have a Big Lots, that's sad.  They sell close-outs and overstocked merchandise, which means a lot of name-brand stuff super cheap.  I recently bought a bunch of Lion Brand and Gala yarns for $1.50 a skein.  In short, Big Lots = Win.  And they certainly didn't disappoint this time.  They didn't have as much yarn as they've had the last few times I've been, but they had oodles of scrapbooking supplies. 

Now, I'm not really into scrapbooking in and of itself, but the supplies excite me because I do love to make things with paper.  And when I saw all those awesome papers and stickers and stamps and doodads and whatzits, all I could think of was books.  Books, books, books!  These would be great for embellishing my books!  So I grabbed a couple of the packages you see in the photo, which consist of several sheets of paper and a whole bunch of assorted... thingies.  And for each of these packages I paid a whopping $2.00.  I love this place.

And as an added bonus, one of their other locations which we visited the other day, had stamps, and I picked up the most adorable set of clear rubber stamps featuring trees and branches and owls.  They match my blog!  How cool is that?  You'll be seeing them in use as soon as I get an acrylic block and some ink. 

So there you have it.  My new toys are my motivation this week.  What's yours?

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Hi, folks.  Sorry about the lack of post yesterday.  I didn't have much time to work, and I decided to focus what time I did have on listing my Coppelia necklace:

Today, I was intending write up a Thursday Threads feature for our featured EtsyBlogger of the month, DizzyDragonflies, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you all a raincheck.  My stomach's been vaguely upset all day, and I just don't feel well, so I'm going to just relax and take it easy this afternoon.  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Techno Tuesday: Greasemonkey/Etsy Hacks

I love Firefox.  I'm a fairly recent convert, and I'm still exploring all the bells and whistles.  But I've already found a number of awesome add-ons that have made my life immensely easier.  I'll be sharing them with you over the next few weeks, beginning with what might just be my favorite, Greasemonkey.

Basically, Greasemonkey allows you to customize a website's appearance.  Once you have the add-on installed, you can download all sorts of scripts for all sorts of sites that do all sorts of things.  That's where Etsyhacks comes in.  Etsyhacks is an awesome collection of Greasemonkey scripts that add all sorts of handy features to your Etsy pages.

I can't comment on all of them, because I don't use them all, but I can tell you that I love the ones I do use.  Here's a look at my favorites...

Fast Tagger 
Fast Tagger does just what it sounds like - makes tagging faster.  MUCH faster.  It gives you one box in which to quickly type all your tags, and with a simple click on the "add to tags" button... BAM!  Your item's tagged. 

Bulk Image Uploader
 I'm sure I'm not the only person who hated having to upload images one at a time.  Well, now you don't have to.  This hack allows you to upload all five of your images in one go.  Quick.  Easy.  Awesome.

Copy Listing

You know what stinks?  When you have a bunch of items that are all the same aside from the color, and you have to fill out a whole separate listing for each one.  Bleh.  Fortunately for us, there's a hack for that.  This particular hack sits quietly on each listing's page just waiting until it's time for you to list something similar.  And when that time comes, one click will copy all of the listing information and plunk it into the forms for you, so all you need to worry about is making those few minor changes.  Simple.

Forum Wrangler

This one's my favorite.  It places a handy dandy little navigation bar at the top of the forum pages, so you can easily bounce around without having to go back to the main forums page.  Even better, it helps you keep track of which threads you've read and which you've posted to, and it gives you the ability to jump right to the last page you read in any given thread, which is great for keeping up with those long, ongoing threads.  No more searching for your last post.  No more trying to remember if you posted to a thread or not.  Now you can do your reading and posting and get outta there and back to creating.

So there you have my favorite hacks.  There are oodles more.  Go check 'em out!  And comment with your favorite Etsyhacks!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Motivator: Goals

Howdy, Folks!  I'm feeling extra motivated this Monday!  It may just be that it's warm and sunny and beautiful today.  But I think part of it is that I've finally set myself a goal.

If you go looking for business advice, chances are this is one of the first things you'll be told.  Set goals.  It's sounds like such a little thing.  And compared to the other things on my to-do list like listing and promoting and organizing, it just seemed so insignificant.  Set a goal?  Pfff.  I've got crocheting to do, ads to make, blog posts to write! 

And aside from that, I honestly just didn't know what sort of goal to set.  Other than "sell something."  But hey, that was a goal, right?  So I let it go at that.

Until a couple weeks ago, when Kitty and I were chatting business and she suggested that I set myself a goal of selling an item a week.  Brilliant!  It was definitely a step up, but still seemed perfectly doable. 

So when Monday rolled around and I got down to business, I decided to make it official.  I registered with Goalforit - which I'd found and bookmarked a few weeks before - so I'd have a way to track my progress and, hopefully, keep myself motivated.

I'll discuss the site further in an upcoming Techno Tuesday, but long story short, it's awesome.  Goalforit allows you to set your own personal goals and (here's the important part) set up an action plan and track your progress.  It's kind of like a to-do list, only better. 

Even though I haven't reached my goal yet, I still feel great because I can see myself making progress.  I know I'm getting closer.  I know I can make it!

Now what about you?  Have you set goals for yourself?  And if so, do you use any sort of system to keep track of your progress?  Leave a comment!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Giveaway!

I'm giving away these earrings!  Enter to win at Got a Lot to Give!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Techno Tuesday: Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets.  I'm sure the very word makes some of you cringe.  It doesn't exactly make me want to dance with glee.  Because spreadsheets make me think of Excel, and honestly...  I kind of hate Excel.  I had to learn the basics several years ago when I took a required Intro to Computers class, and while I learned enough to use it, I never did come to completely understand it, and I would still have to stop and fiddle around occasionally to figure things out. 

But when I began making preparations to open my Etsy shop and started looking for ways to keep things organized, I came across a number of spreadsheets.  And rather than cower in fear of the evil Excel, I decided to face it head-on.  I was confident.  After all, these were downloadable, already-set-up spreadsheets that I just had to plunk my own info into.  Couldn't be too difficult, right? 

For the most part, it really wasn't.  It was painless enough that I'm still using them.  And only occasionally do I want to kick Excel in its nonexistent behind.  So what do I use?

One of the first spreadsheets I snagged, and one that I find darn-near indispensable is Chris Parry's pricing spreadsheet.  It seems silly now, but one of the things that previously held me back from trying to sell my crafts was the fact that I just didn't know what to charge for things.  So I did some research on the subject when I set up my Etsy shop and came across this spreadsheet.  It took a bit of time to set up initially because it's quite thorough, taking into account everything from the cost of materials to the cost of rent and utilities for your studio space.  Once I had everything set up, though, it was a simple matter of plugging in the cost of materials and the time spent on the item to get a suggested price, both retail and wholesale.  And what was once an ordeal is now a piece of cake.  Thanks, Chris!

Once I've got my pricing worked out and have my item listed, all the info goes into my Etsy Seller Worksheet, which I found perusing the Storque.  If you don't already, read the the Storque!  It's chock full of useful information and tools like this.  The Seller Worksheet, which is organized by month, lets you keep track of what's listed in your store, what you've sold, when you've sold it, and who you've sold it to, when you were paid, when the item was shipped, what you paid in fees, and finally, your profit.  *whew*  As you can see, this one lets you keep a lot of information in one convenient place.  And it's also super easy to use. 

Finally, when I've made a sale and use the money to buy more supplies, I try to remember to add them to my inventory spreadsheet.  My inventory is very much a work in progress.  I began using a very simple spreadsheet of my own concoction, which has worked just fine, thus far.  The biggest problem I have is finding the motivation actually add things.  As much as I like to stay organized, sometimes it seems like a waste of time to be cataloging my supplies rather than making things with them.  But I digress.  I recently grabbed the Pro Inventory Tracking sheet from the Accounting SPOT to play with.  It's definitely more advanced than mine--and the other sheets I use--and I've only just begun playing with it, but thus far, I like it.  It's certainly worth snagging while it's free. 

Do you use spreadsheets to keep your business organized?  Leave a comment and tell me what you use!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog Carnival: Spring Has Sprung

 The latest EtsyBloggers blog carnival, hosted by Made by Melissa, asks the question,
Spring time is almost here, do you have any special items in your shop to celebrate the season?
Well, one of the first things I think about when I think spring is flowers, and I just happen to have several floral items in my shop, such as...

The Wild Irish Headband


and this Basic Branding Package 

And I've got some new designs coming just for spring.  I have a giveaway starting tomorrow, hosted by Got A Lot to Give for these earrings:

I'll also be adding this design to my shop in an array of bright, spring colors, probably with a matching necklace and/or bracelet.  I've got some more crocheted accessories in the works, as well.  And graphics, of course.  
Spring is a time of growth, and having planted the seeds, I intend to keep nurturing my little shop-plant and watch it grow!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Follower Feature Friday: simply_hibiscus

Happy Friday, Folks!  It's time for another follower feature!  This week's follower is simply_hibiscus, who makes some of the cutest plushies this side of... well... anywhere.  A visit to her shop is like walking into a very eclectic and somewhat odd zoo.  You'll find all sorts of critters from owls and octopuses to dinosaurs and yetis, with a healthy dose of adorable monsters thrown in to the mix.  Here are some of my favorites...


Melvin has got to be the world's cutest yeti.  That hair... Those eyes... He may be the strong, silent type, but inside he's just begging to be cuddled.  And who wouldn't love to cuddle a yeti?

Lucy the Owl

I love me some owls, and there seem to be plenty of them floating around the Etsyverse.  But Lucy here stands out from the crowd.  Lucy is an owl with attitude.  Or maybe... hootitude?  Whatever it is, she's got it.  And then some.  As the entry reads, "Checkered, round, gray, and small, she's the owl that has it all."  I couldn't have said it better myself!


I don't know about you, but I didn't know monsters could be this cute.  In fact, this little guy - with his big, round eyes and somewhat uncertain expression - is so adorable I kind of feel bad for calling him a monster.  Perhaps "unidentified creature" would be better.  I'd hate to hurt his feelings.  He seems like kind of a sensitive little guy... 

Now, if you don't see anything in the shop that really tugs at your heartstrings, don't fret.  Simplyhibiscus takes custom orders!  And if you wanna give a little Wub to a someone special, you can have your order gift wrapped for just two bucks! 

So what are you waiting for?  Go pay simplyhibiscus a visit.  And let me know if you see any octopuses.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Threads: Spring Green

What's this?  A regular feature?  At last? 

Yep.  I'm finally gettin' back into the swing of things.  Sorry for the sparse activity, folks.  I'm afraid our little household hasn't been the healthiest of late.  But Kitty's all better now, and I finally have the energy and brainpower to do something other than sit around like a bump on a log (or a bum on the couch, as the case may be).  So let's get back to our regularly scheduled blog, shall we?

Spring is finally on it's way, and I can't wait for it to get here!  I love spring.  I love it's lack of snow.  I love the temperatures that climb to well above freezing.  But most of all, I love all of the buds and blossoms and blooms, the life that finally returns, and the beautiful colors it brings.  Like green. 

This week's Thursday Threads features cute garments in light and lively shades of spring green.  Like this adorable gingham dress by Ananya:

This dress just screams spring to me.  The color, those playful ruffles, the print...  Spring and gingham just go together like... peanut butter and jelly - which would make a great sandwich to pack for a picnic, to which you could wear this dress.  Of course, it would be equally suited to a walk in the park, a trip to the nearest ice cream shop, or... just about anything really.  It's casual enough for everyday but has plenty of dressing-up potential for those somewhat more formal occasions.  Ah, versatility.  I love it!
Which is part of the reason I love this reversible wrap skirt by GenerationGap:

Adorable, no?  I'm not usually all that fond of floral prints, but this ones pretty with it's springy greens and golden yellows and those lovely little, white... daisies?  I'm going to call them daisies.  And I'm going to call this skirt awesome, because guess what.  This is only the first side!  This skirts reversible, so if you're not in a flowery kinda mood, you can flip this puppy around and BAM!  You've got the same cute, kneelength wrap skirt in a lovely shade of sky blue.  How cool is that?  I love reversible stuff. 

Ya know what else I love?  Hoodies.  I think a cute hoodie is a necessity for spring weather.  And this bunny hoodie by ShoriAmeshiko is seriously cute:

It has ears.  And a cute ickle bunny face.  And wings!  And it's made with fleece, so it's most likely just as comfy and cozy as it looks.  And it looks pretty darn cozy.  And so do ShoriAmeshiko's other adorable critter-eared hoodies (featuring bears, and moogles, and mudkips - oh, my!) and hats.  The whole shop is just full of cute, so be sure to check it out!

And if you've got any spring greens you'd like to share, leave a comment! 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

Cookies I made for Kitty's birthday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Motivator - A New Crafty Addiction

If you saw my latest Wordless Wednesday, then you know that I've taken a stab at bookbinding.  It was one of those things that I'd wanted to try for ages and just hadn't gotten around to it.  And now that I have... I'm totally hooked. 

I've already started working on one for Kitty, who was totally impressed with the first one.  And I have so many ideas for others.  SO many.  Different papers, different embellishments, different themes and uses... 

And the best part?  I hardly have to buy any materials to make these!  The covers are just your average cardboard (the first one was made from a Hamburger Helper box), and I've already got a decent stack saved up.  Look guys, I'm hoarding craft supplies AND reducing waste!  :D

I'm currently using plain old printer paper for the pages, but I'd really like to use recycled paper.  Maybe even handmade paper.  I've already started collecting scraps for potential future paper-making experiments. 

I'm going to do a few more first--practice makes perfect, you know--but I think I'm definitely going to try to sell some of these puppies.  I'm just debating between adding them to my Etsy inventory and starting a separate shop just for them, maybe on Zibbet.  I've heard great things and it wouldn't cost me a penny, so even if they didn't sell I wouldn't be out anything...

Ah, but I'm thinking out loud now, and I've got rice balls to make!  Later, Taters!