Thursday, November 3, 2016

November: A New Focus

My lists of items to make in October just kept getting bumped by orders. That's a good thing. Orders are good! At this point, I have orders for 9 items. The orders came from various sources...craft shows, a Facebook craft group, my Facebook page... but when I total up all the orders, if I considered them one "craft show", it would be #4 in sales over all the 44 shows I've done in the past four years. I hope that this trend continues, and my focus can switch more from guessing on what will sell, to making specific items for customers.

So, in the month of November, my primary focus is going to be finishing orders! I realize that at my remaining three craft shows, I may get some more custom orders! Rather than randomly making items that I think will sell (like the 8 pumpkin pie slice tissue holders I had ready for last week's show?), I will plug away at orders. 

In my "spare time", I also want to get a bit more organized... getting some yarn put away, rather than having it sit in bags in the craft room (DONE). Organizing my patterns a little better. (I think the Big Head Baby Dolls, their accessories and various design ideas need their own notebook!) Sorting through the hats and scarves that just aren't selling and making arrangements to get them to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Downsizing and focusing on what's working. 

That being said, I still am not stepping away from my September challenge to finish off that bag of yarn! There are still four skeins of fuzzy, furry yarn that are calling to be made into hedgehogs or some other cuddly critter! 

So, let's see how much I can accomplish from this list in November! 

1. Thomas the Tank Engine Hat & Scarf set
Done, now to work on new order of matching mittens!


2. Set of two purple and red mini sock monkeys
Done, customer very happy! 

3. Moose 1

4. Moose 2- done

5. Moose 3 - Done! 

6. Dragon Scale gloves - shades of blue - done


7. Dragon Scale gloves - green and white 



8. Gray Fun Fur project 















9. Blue Fun Fur Project- done!


10. Whirlagig yarn project
Chubs used up most of the skein of Whirlagig yarn.



This guy used up the rest.
11. Modea yarn project
Finished Modea yarn and started Whirlagig with "Mo"

12. Purple fun fur project - DONE
Just a little purple left after finishing this guy! 
And a little troll (still needs arms/legs) finished off the purple! 


Only twelve projects... in 30 days. I may not finish, but I'll give it a try! 

11/6/16 - 3 down, 9 to go! 

11/18 Update - 7 down, 5 to go! Over halfway done! 

11/22 - Thanks to staying home on a snowy day off, I only have two projects on this list yet to finish. I do have two projects added, though: 

13. Mike Wazowski doll for December 3rd craft show - DONE
K


14. Snowman doll from One and Two Company pattern for November Crochet-Along contest (for free patterns) - Done


So, 10 down, 14 to go, with 8 days left in the month. Can be done... definitely! Unless the custom order link for Hedgehogs I just put on Etsy blows up and I go into full-scale hedgehog-making mode! 
Custom Hedgehog Listing

11/27 Update: 
I have the feet/legs and one arm/hand done for the Mike Wazowski doll. I should be able to finish him up today or tomorrow. Maybe one more punky doll to use up the purple fun fur, and then I will ace this month's list! Then it's on to custom orders for FIVE moose! Very thankful for those custom orders! 

11/28
ENTIRE LIST FOR NOVEMBER IS DONE! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Slump

I had high hopes for September.

I  set a lofty goal for using up yarn from my stash... and only got through about half of it.

I had high hopes for two craft shows. Local sale in my hometown in conjunction with townwide garage sale did well two years ago. Barely sold enough to pay for my table this year. Bummer. Other show came within $11 of setting a new record for net sales last year. This year, it ranked in the bottom third. Double bummer.

Buzz Feed featured an article about dragon scale gloves. I had two pairs completed, so quickly listed them in my Etsy shop. I had over 700 views in one week (probably more than in the past year). Did either pair sell? Nope.

When I entered mileage for craft shows and some incidental expenses, I realized that my expenses for the year are higher than my sales. Like $100 higher. Ouch.

There were tears. There was frustration. I said to myself, "Why do I do this? There's no cheese at the end of the maze!"

So I entered October not wanting to set lofty goals or have high hopes for the three craft shows scheduled for October (good thing, because the show on October 1st was another bottom-third show. It was a great show, though, because I met some wonderful people and had some great interaction. I gave out some free gifts and got a lot of baby smiles.) Focus on finishing stuff. Focus on organizing. Spend a little more time cleaning my house. Focus on getting back to healthy habits. Focus on the customers - greeting them, engaging them in conversation, being a bright spot in their day, rather than focusing on sales. Finish off that bag of yarn from the September challenge. If I see a quick little pattern that I think is adorable, just make it!

I started October with several custom orders awaiting completion.
Catnip Mouse order... done

Orange dragon order... done


Girly-Girl airplane order... done

I'm trying to focus on the positive:

  • I'm nearly done with an order I've been putting off for months. (Done!)
  • My yarn stash is lower than it has been in years, thanks to my sticking to my "yarn diet."
  • I have two more craft shows this month that have the potential to get me out of the red. (Well, one of them put me even further in the red... didn't sell enough to cover the table fee)
  • I'm excited about designing some entries for a amigurumi monster design contest
    First monster design done
  • I found a new pattern for an adorable Pumpkin Pie Tissue Holder that has the potential to be a hot seller at fall craft shows, will work on getting a few of those made. (Update... 8 ready to go for craft shows!)
    I've made two so far, and both are spoken for! 
  • Three out of four of the hedgehogs I made from the Woodland Hedgehog pattern have sold... so make a few more! I certainly have enough fun fur yarn! (Update: Made up two more, and one of them sold as soon as I put it on Facebook)
So I will plug away at my two remaining custom orders (the penguin mittens and a mermaid tail order cancelled), make enough pumpkin pie slices to fill a pie plate, and forge ahead with October with a positive outlook.
Penguin Mitts done! 


10/9 Update:
The order for the mermaid tail fell through, so without any orders on hand, I will just keep churning out items that I think will sell quickly at craft shows.
Started: Fingerless gloves. Finished: Mini monster & pumpkin pie tissue holder


After the mermaid tail order got cancelled, I decided to make up a new challenge for myself. Managed to cross off 3 of the 16 squares in one day!

10/12 Update: Today's WIP Picture: on the left is the start of a design for the monster contest. I haven't made much progress on "catasaurus" since last Wednesday's picture! In the center is a Starabella scarf - using up some of the yarn from the September challenge (scarf finished 10/27). And to the right, I made a hat with the bulky black yarn from the challenge, and still had some left over, so now I'm working on matching pawprint fingerless gloves. I did get a custom order for several amigurumi that replaces the lost mermaid tail order, so I will be a busy girl for the rest of the month! 

Another yarn from the September challenge finished off!
Making progress on this list.
Little orders here and there, from posting pictures of finished projects on Facebook, have started to close the gap on my deficit. If I sell enough to cover my table rent at this Saturday's craft show, I will be in the black again. My track record for that show is rather inconsistent... of the three fall shows I have done there, the sales rank #12, #34 & #37 of 43 shows). Even the poor shows, though, had enough sales to cover the table rent. (It ended up #14 with just the sales from the show. If you add in custom orders to be picked up at later shows, it would be #4)

Almost end of month update: 
Two more boxes checked off!

I took a break from custom orders last night and finished up the Starbella ruffled scarf I've been working on. Then I grabbed the partial skein of rust colored worsted weight yarn from my September Challenge bag and started a monster design. It didn't quite work out the way I was thinking, so the planned body became the head, and I went in another direction... then I decided to do curly tentacles instead of legs. Then I had yarn left over, so I added big ears and an elephant-worthy nose. I'm not entirely happy with the eyes... making good eyes on such a small scale is difficult. I'm still debating whether to leave as is, or snip the eyes off and make new ones. I'll probably put him on my craft table tomorrow and see how people react. Maybe a monster-bug loving little boy will want to take him home! 

October 30 update:
Well, good sales at yesterday's show finally got me out of the red. I picked up a few custom orders, and a photographer from a local paper took a picture of me at my table. Let's see if anything comes of that! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My September Challenge



 Making progress...
So, I am trying to continue my "yarn diet" into September. I have several bins of yarn in three locations in the house (ten totes in the basement, 4 under one bed, 1 under another bed), and would like to empty out one or two. I came up with this idea...

I sorted my Ravelry yarn stash inventory by lowest yardage, so I ended up with small/partial skeins. Here is a screen shot of the first 28 entries. I would like to use up these 28 balls/skeins of yarn in September.
Yarn is gathered from a dozen different totes... 2.5 pounds to use up! 


Here are my ideas so far...



1. Brown Rug Yarn - catnip toys? 
Four long-tail catnip balls, done.

2. Sashay Ribbon yarn (from when ruffled scarves were so popular) - ballet skirt on stuffed animals?
  (used it to make a cowl, but need to put a button on before I can take pictures)
3. Starabella Yarn - see #2
4. White sport yarn - combined with another strand or two to make a stuffed animal
5. Fuschia Wool - dryer ball
6. Hot Pink bulky yarn - I may have used this up already. It was marked as being used in a project
7. Pink Ombre - mini baby doll, would make cute PJs .
Ombre #7 - Used up! 

8. Whirlagig - not sure - maybe a Joy doll from the movie Inside Out?
9. Pink Pompadour - mini baby dolls - face/body
10. Jamie Baby - combine with other yarn to make stuffed animal
4, 9 & 10... knocked out three numbers in one project! 
Bored with some other projects, I pulled up the pattern for a little Big Head Baby Doll and started with the two pink baby yarns...then used the white sports yarn for her head. It's not even September yet, and I've used up five of the yarns from this list!

11. Black Thick & Quick - Hair for a Gonk doll
Gonk #1

12. Red Heart Classic - small stuffed animal
13, 14, 15 - Moda Dea fun fur - hedgehogs!
16. Green sport yarn - used up in gonk hat (see above) and a catnip long-tail ball thoroughly enjoyed by my grandkitty, Fyodor!

17 Fun Fur  mixed with bulky - Cookie Monster cat hats
18 Red Sport yarn - and 20 white sport yarn - Pokemon Go Balls
19 Deborah Norville blue variegated - Fancy dress-up baby doll - couldn't find this in stash! :(
21 & 22 - more fun fur - more hedgehogs?
Hedgehog #1
Almost finished off the green yarn (#21)

23 Pink worsted weight - baby slippers- used in a doll
24 & 25 - bulky yarn, blue & black - airplane? knit beanie? gonk hair?
Used one skein to make a belt. Used half of another skein to make a baby hat (which cannot be put online until after a 9/17 baby shower)

26 Soft gray bulky yarn - Gnome hair
Used up gray yarn for a catnip mouse and hair on Gnome #3 in this pic.

27 - light blue sport yarn - combine with other yarn to make stuffed animal
Doubled the sport yarn to make this hedgehog. Used up half a skein of fun fur, too! 

28 - black bulky yarn - gonk hair

I won't necessarily do them in that order... just as the inspiration arises! I will be updating here as I complete projects ! September also marks the beginning of my craft shows (2 in September, 4 in October, 2 in November), so custom orders may compete with challenge projects for my crafting time!


9/30 Update:
I used 18 of the 28 yarns shown. I got some custom orders that kept me busy! This dragon kept me busy for about two weeks, but seeing how happy the customer was with him made it all worth it! Now, on to girly-girl airplanes, catnip mice, penguin mittens, and a mermaid tail!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hello, August!

In August, I'm trying to get back to setting some goals and making daily progress toward meeting them. You see, I have a new obsession that threatens to push all my other projects aside... it all started about a week ago when someone posted a picture of an adorable doll in a free pattern group. I went to look up the pattern, only to discover it had been removed from that website. But... there was a note about joining a Facebook group dedicated to making those dolls. So I joined, found the pattern, and discovered that the Big Head Baby Dolls came in three sizes: regular, medium and mini. I pulled out some scrap yarn and tried my hand at a mini... loved it! Then I made another, and another....


One week later, and I've made five of the little cuties! I have so many ideas for color combinations, hats, themes... but I do have a few other items I really should be working on!

So, I set myself a goal to finish up four WIP this month:

  • Unicorn Purse (order) - DONE
  • Cupcake Blanket (gift for granddaughter due in October) - DONE
  • Mermaid Tail Blanket (inventory stock-up) - DONE
  • Penguin Mittens, version 2.0 (order) - 1/4 done with first mitten
Mermaid Tail Blanket - DONE! 

Oops, didn't make a full size doll, made a medium! 
I also made a list of six items I wanted to get made for craft show inventory. One of my customers said she will be shopping at my September shows looking for gifts for a one-year-old boy, so I need to make sure I have a few items that are more typical for boys, like my planes and cars. I also want to get a good selection of the Big Head Baby Dolls in stock, since they are so adorable, I think they will sell well. Here is my inventory-building list:


Cupcake blanket, done! 

  • Plane - DONE
  • Car - DONE
  • Big Head Doll - full size - DONE
  • Big Head Doll - Mini - DONE
  • Big Head Doll - Mini - DONE
  • Pokeball Cat Toys - DONE



I also set goals for participating in blog link-ups, Instagram photo challenges, and Facebook interactive posts. Since August is typically a very, very slow month for sales, I want to promote, promote, promote!

Then, after I had set all those goals, I got drawn into another challenge, a stash-down project. Like so many other crafters, I have quite the stash of yarn and other craft supplies at my disposal. This month's challenge is to:
(1) make one project per day that uses up scrap yarn from my stash. If you are following my Facebook page, you will be seeing lots of little projects like Messy Monsters, Mini Owls and more of those cute little Big Head Baby Doll minis!
(2) At least once a week, make a project that uses a craft material I purchased specifically for a project, but never got around to using... that polymer clay I bought to make my own ergonomic hooks, the beads I got for wrap bracelets, those bell ball cat toys I got to use as a base for crocheted toys, that pom-pom yarn I thought might make a cute hedgehog... you get the idea!
(3) DON'T BUY ANY MORE YARN UNLESS YOU GET AN ORDER THAT REQUIRES IT! (Sorry for the "shouting" caps. Sometimes I just need to get my own attention, especially when it comes to yarn!)

I have been trying to work down my stash, only buying yarn when I absolutely need it for an order. Well, in July I didn't quite stick to that resolution. There was an Estate Sale about two miles from my house. A friend who had been shopping there said there was a box of yarn, for fifty cents a skein/ball. I stopped by on my way home from work... found the box and took it to the front table to pay, hoping I had enough in my wallet. The woman at the table took a look at the box and said, "You'll take the whole box? $5! And take the box of fabric scraps in there, too!" So, I ended up with over 30 balls/skeins of yarn for $5. I also made a few trips to craft stores and picked up a few bargains... so my yarn stash gained about 8 pounds last month. I would like to see it lose at least five pounds this month!


So, those are my lofty goals for August! They look intimidating  in print, but if I keep chipping away at them, one day at a time, one project at a time, one stitch at a time, I can do it! I'll be posting updates on my Facebook Page and through Instagram

August 19th update:
2/3 of the way through the month, so I should have 8 of the twelve items finished, right? Only six... need to keep my focus on the list instead of playing with fun new projects! To my credit, I haven't purchased any yarn. (Originally typed "yearn". I must be yearning for yarn.)

August 30th update:
All done but the penguin mittens... the small needles cramp up my fingers, so haven't been working on them much. Hoping to have one done by tomorrow!


Plane... done

Big Head Doll, done! 

Pokemon Go Ball  cat toys - done!