Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fun times in my Etsy shop

I hope you all had a restful long weekend. I was so excited last week about my patterns coming out in the Knitscene Accessories 2012 that I forgot to mention that some of the items I made for the craft fair are now available in my Etsy shop. Drum roll please!

The first up is this Skinny Drop Stitch scarf that I knit in Malabrigo Silky Merino, Viena colorway. I love this pattern so much that I've knit 3 more since this one. I haven't had the chance to block and photograph the other 3, but when I do, I'll make sure to share them with you. It's now up in my Etsy shop here.  The Viena colorway I used in this scarf is one of my absolute favorites, as the brown, yellow and orange colors just make a very bold statement. As usual, thanks to Zeina Newman, my fabulous model, for her outstanding work.

These next two scarves are knit from my Colliding Stars pattern. I love this simple pattern, and the Classic Elite Waterlily yarn is a dream to work with. As the pattern is so simple, the scarves work up very quickly.

The first one is in a cream/natural colorway. It's available in my Etsy shop here.

The second scarf is in a light green colorway and is also available in my Etsy shop here.

Ah my lovelies! I'm so excited when I get to post about pretty finished objects. Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sunehri and Destiny patterns in Knitscene Accessories 2012!

I am so excited for this week's post! I submitted two patterns to Knitscene Accessories magazine last year, and luckily for me both of them were accepted. The knitting deadline was mid-December so I spent most of late November and the first two weeks of December knitting frantically. In fact, I think I pulled an all-nighter in order to finish the Sunehri shawl, block it, and mail it so it would get to the editors in time. It was a tough night. If you don't believe me, ask my neighbor Claudine. :) I had to borrow a fan from her to speed the drying process during blocking.

Anyway, enough of my chatter. Here are the two patterns! I'm so excited!!

I designed the Sunehri Shawl on the fly. I thought it would be cool to use the elongated stitch pattern in a shawl. However I had never designed a shawl before. I looked online for instructions on how to design a shawl. (Trust me, a Google search works wonders!) I found this post by Michelle Miller of Fickleknitter. Michelle is one of my favorite designers, and she allowed me to test knit one of the first shawls I ever knitted. That's how the Sunehri Shawl came to be. I originally designed it with a rich golden yellow yarn, which is why I picked the name "Sunehri", which means "golden" in Hindi. It's also the name of one of my favorite characters (played by Aishwarya Rai), in the fantastic Bollywood movie "Dhoom 2". (Check it out! It's a lot of fun, and has some awesome dance moves!). The magazine sample was knit in Manos del Uruguay Maxima (Highlighter colorway), on US #9 needles.

The Destiny Cowl is an oldie but goodie. Around Christmas of 2010, I was sitting around playing with some Super Bulky yarn when I thought it would be interesting to see what happen if I worked some rows of 4x4 ribbing, increased the number of stitches, and then worked a few rows of stockinette. I knit 2 more prototypes after the initial one, and submitted it along with the Sunehri Shawl for this magazine. Thankfully, it was also accepted. Yay! The sample is knit in Takhi Yarns Jackson (Midnight colorway), on US #10.5 and US #13 circular needles.

So now you know I've not been lying when I say I've been working on super secret projects! Thank you all for cheering me on and supporting me! See you next week and enjoy the holiday weekend!

Friday, May 18, 2012

I want...

This week, after looking through all the inventory, supplies and materials I accumulated for the craft fair, I've realized that I want a well-organized home/craft studio. I want to set it up nicely so it looks like there's some order to the madness and creativity that happens here. I was trolling the web for ideas and came across some gorgeous home studios.

This first one, Debee's studio, is my absolute favorite! I don't know her personally, but I have to tell you that her studio blew my mind. You can go to her blog post about her studio to get all the info as I unfortunately can't post her photos here.

I was looking for better yarn organization ideas and came across this picture from when I Googled "yarn storage". I tell you, I would be in my studio all day everyday if my stash looked like this. :)

Then there's this lady, Yarnhog, who showed her recently organized/decorated craft room and it looks just beautiful. There are some great ideas in these posts right?

I want to keep my Ikea bookcases, so I was thinking I would get these X-Racks (or have similar ones made) to divide my yarns into sections so they are better organized.

Another crafter, Tara of "Easy Makes Me Happy", wrote a post about how her husband built her yarn storage that looks just like what you would find in a yarn shop. It's pretty stunning, and gives the same effect I want to achieve with the X-rack dividers. Her yarn stash looks so amazing organized this way (picture below).

Apart from organizing my yarn, I would like to have the studio set up properly, with extra shelves on the walls to hold books, magazines and my various notions. I would also like some cabinets, maybe like this Ikea Expedit bookcase turned on it's side, to hold my finished items. I would put some drawers and transparent boxes in there so I know what each box contains (and also just to see the pretty colors. )

So what do y'all think? Does this plan sound good? Any ideas on how I could make the craft studio even prettier? I have access to about 1/2 the room. :)

I'm looking forward to your comments and suggestions. See you next week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Craft Fair Prep info

PS: This is going to be another long post so get yourself settled before you start. You might want to bookmark this post for helpful tips on getting prepped for a craft fair. 

Going through my preparation for the craft fair, I went between excitement and nervousness many many times. I wasn't sure how to proceed at all. How many items did I need? What did I need for decorating my stall? How would I accept payment? All these and many other questions rattled around in my head for a long time, and I scoured the internet to find some answers. 

I compiled all the websites and blogs that gave me helpful information for this fair in a Google doc, and thought I'd share some of that info with you. I hope this is useful if and when you ever decide to do a craft fair. Please note that since I was selling hand-knit scarves and mitts, most of my ideas for displays will be specific to those items. 

For an extensive supply list, this page from Bazaar Bizarre was invaluable in helping me gather all that I needed for the fair:
With this list as a guideline, I created my own supply list below. Next to the items, I'm going to put where I found/ordered them.

For Items 
Handmade items with Prices - ME
Hang Tags - WWW.PRINTRUNNER.COM. Great prices and fast shipping if you live in CA
Signs with pricing and prompts - Didn't make them. :(
Safety pins - DOLLAR STORE
Crocheted strings - I was pressed for time so I settled for just cutting pieces of yarn, threading them through the safety pins and attaching the safety pins to the knitted items.

For wrapping

White paper bags - WWW.PAPERMART.COM. I love them for paper bags, envelopes & tissue paper.
Tissue paper for bags - WWW.PAPERMART.COM
Stickers for the bags - WWW.PRINTRUNNER.COM

For viewing and display

  • Mirror - IKEA: I used these, attached to the scarf display rack.

  • Contact cards or business cards -WWW.MOO.COM. You've gotta love Moo. Their cards are beautiful!
    Coat rack poles for display - Went with a room divider from IKEA: My friend Darren N. is absolutely talented when it comes to making/building things, and he modified this room divider for me to use as a scarf stand. Let me know if you would like his contact info. He's a pleasure to work with.

    Mannequin - Erin from Bobbin's Nest was gracious enough to lend me hers while I waited for mine to arrive. You can get them from Robert Ham though:
    Electrical cords/plugs - It turns out I didn't need them, so I didn't take any along
    Table Cloth - DOLLAR STORE
    Lighting - I looked but couldn't find any in time, and it turns out I didn't need them.
    Photobooks - I went with, and picked it up the same day. However I feel Shutterfly or Snapfish might have given me better quality books. They usually have coupons/deals going on.
    Banner - WWW.BUILDASIGN.COM. I love this website. Great customer service, and the banner came out very sturdy and absolutely gorgeous. 
    Push Pins - DOLLAR STORE

    For selling

  • Sign up sheet for mailing list or custom orders - MADE THESE AT HOME.

  • Pens for customers to write checks - DOLLAR STORE
    Clipboards (2) - I got one for free from my Bank of America Banking Associate (Thanks Malou!), and bought the other one from Office Depot. 
    Change - I took about $200 in change in various denominations.
    Calculator - I used the native one on my phone.
    Money Box - Malou to the rescue again! She gave me 2 money bags to use so I didn't need to buy one
    Credit Card Processor (Square or PayPal) - I went with Square, and used my iPad. The Square Register app is fabulous! It allows you to list all your items before you even get there and set how much tax to collect, so you just tap the item being bought and the price + tax is already calculated for you. I loved using it!
    iPad or phone - I took the iPad as I dont have a data plan. The school gave us guest access to their wireless network.

    For Me

  • Cool outfit - I rocked something comfortable. :)

  • Water and snacks - I took my own cooler full of food. I had some leftovers from the previous night's dinner, a lot of fruit (pears) and water.

  • Supplies (to craft while at the event) - I was hoping to finish another pair of mitts and attach buttons to the headbands I had made but I had very little time to sit and just craft, even though the fair wasn't busy. I kept trying to engage passersby and get them to stop and take a look at my items.

  • Table and chair - The fair organizers provided chairs and tables so I didn't have to worry about those.

  • Comfy Shoes - Wore my favorite flat shoes. :)

  • Discussions on the Etsy "Craft's a living" group also provided me with a lot of links and articles for prepping and getting ready. In fact, I posted a question on there about scarf displays and got a lot of responses pretty quickly.

    I got inspiration to get my own scarf display stand built after I saw that one of the members of the Etsy group had posted how she built her craft fair display in this blog post:

    After doing a Google Search for scarf display stand ideas, I got inspired by various drying racks and quilt racks. This scarf display stand from was my first choice for a stand, and I had hoped to get something similar built.

    Here are my other favorites: 
    I hope you found this post helpful and informative. Please leave any questions/feedback in the comments section and I'll respond as soon as I can. I'll be back with more knitted items next week. Enjoy the rest of your week! 

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Reflections from my first craft fair

    Finally, the post you've all been waiting for. :) 

    Just to give some background for those who might not have been on this blog before, I took part in my very first craft fair as a vendor two Saturdays ago (4/21/2012), at the Milpitas Christian School. I was excited to be asked (the organizer also sells on Etsy and found me there), and thought it would be a good way to venture into selling at fairs without a lot of risk since there was no booth fee per se. We just had to donate 10% of our sales from the fair to the school. 

    Although this arrangement sounded fair to me, I hesitated quite a bit before sending in my vendor application form. My main worry was that I wouldn't have time to create enough items for the fair. On the other hand, I felt that if I didn't take the plunge I would never do it. After two weeks of dilly dallying and going back and forth, I sent in my application and threw myself feverishly into getting ready for the fair.

    I spent hours on Ravelry and thumbing through stitch dictionaries to find easy but compelling patterns to make. I went through my yarn stash and pulled out yarns I thought would work. I went a little yarn crazy on Ravelry and bought some more yarn from my fellow Ravelrers. 

    I also spent a lot of time designing photobooks to use as a design portfolio, and went to pick those up from Walgreens on the Tuesday before the fair, with my poor little boy in tow. 
    Photobook from Walgreens.  ©LivedStories
    I was up till 2am almost every night for the 2 weeks prior to the show, knitting and conducting research. I took a one-week vacation from work to rest up and prepare for the fair. I was really, really into it. I even got my friends Zeina Newman (my usual model) and LivedStories (my photographer) in on the action, and they helped me by punching holes in my hang tags, putting stickers on my paper bags, and lining the paper bags with lime green tissue paper. 
    Paper bags lined with lime green tissue paper. ©LivedStories
    All done! All the paper bags with stickers and tissue paper. ©LivedStories.
    I gave myself a "stop knitting" deadline for the Wednesday prior to the fair (4/18). However as I wrote in that week's blog post, I was still knitting by Friday morning. On Friday evening, a few hours before the fair, I finally realized that I had to give up on finishing two more scarves by morning. I had already packed all the extra items - tablecloth, pins, banner, change, money bag etc., so I decided to set up my item inventory on the Square Register app on my iPad (more on that in the next post).

    My process was a little convoluted. After the painful process of itemizing my inventory just a month ago for tax time, I wanted to make sure that I listed each item, what material went into it, what the actual costs were, and what the markup was in a Google doc. With this done, I would then calculate what the price of each item would be, and then put that in the item listing on the Square Register app. I would then put the price on a little sticker label on the hangtag, and attach the hangtag with a piece of yarn and a safety pin to the particular item. This is how they looked after this whole process was done.
    Hangtag with price sticker, attached with a piece of yarn and a safety pin. ©LivedStories
    Scarves showing hangtags with price sticker. ©LivedStories
    It looked like a long night. However, with some K-pop (Korean pop music) playing in the background, I got myself into a nice groove and was zooming along nicely when the internet went off. At 1am. I had to be at the fair by 8:30am to set up. And the internet was off. 

    I couldn't believe it. I turned the modem off and on, plugged and unplugged the router...everything I thought would work, short of waking my husband up. It didn't come back on. So, with about 1/3 of my inventory left to be labeled and included in the inventory, I finally gave up around 2am and went to bed. In hindsight, I should have called Comcast, but I'm sure you realize I wasn't thinking straight by then. :) I woke up 4.5hrs later, at 6:30am, to finish off the labeling/itemizing/packing. By the time I finished packing, got my food together, took a shower and all that jazz, it was past 9am. The fair was starting at 10:30am. Yikes! I still had to go pick up the paper bags from LivedStories, and I hadn't even mapped where the Milpitas Christian School was actually located. By the time I got there, it was 10am, and I had exactly 30 minutes to set up my stall. 

    It was ALMOST a nightmare! First, another vendor had mistakenly taken my spot, and I had to gently prod her to move. I was fine with taking her spot instead, but because of the screens I was using to display my scarves, I needed a wall behind me. Luckily, she was easygoing and had no problem moving. As I began to set up, I heard an announcement over the PA system that guests were starting to arrive. I was near panicking. I tried to put my banner up but the pushpins I brought weren't working. I tried to use safety pins but the pins were not strong enough and the banner was heavy enough to pull the tablecloth down or rip it (it was plastic)! Oh gosh! What to do? 

    Wanda, one of the organizers of the fair, came to my rescue! She brought sturdier pushpins so my awesome banner could be put up. It was touch and go there for a moment, I tell you. :)
    There's the banner!! ©LivedStories.
    Erin of Bobbin's Nest Studio was another angel of mine that day. She drove all the way to Milpitas to hand deliver her body form which she was lending to me for the craft fair. Can you believe that? Please show her some love by purchasing some yarn from the Bobbin's Nest Studio online store. They are having a sale this week!! 
    The body form from Erin in use at the fair. ©LivedStories
    So now I was all set up and ready for the customers. Whew!.....nothing. A couple of people here, one person there, a nice and chatty old man here, a mother with a few toddlers who liked the pompoms there. It was SLOW. It didn't help that it was 90 degrees outside. I also think that the ads that were run for the fair (on Craigslist and in the San Jose Mercury News) probably didn't reach that many people. As such there weren't many patrons at the fair. 

    I thought the lack of patrons was both good and bad. Good because for my first fair, I feared I would be overwhelmed by crowds and would lose my bearings or money or some of my inventory in the madness. As such I was grateful for the slow traffic. Bad because, (as I'm sure you've all guessed), the lack of patrons means we didn't sell much. I actually sold 3 items (2 fingerless mitts and a lace scarf), and got 2 custom order requests. 
    A customer examining one of the fingerless mitts before purchasing. ©LivedStories
    The two mitts I sold. ©NiseyKnits
    The scarf I sold. ©LivedStories
    Would I do this fair again? Or any other craft fair again? Probably. I enjoyed chatting with people, and showing them how beautiful and cool knitted items can be. Plus, now that I've got all the stock items made (banner, scarf stand, photobooks, hangtags, etc.), I think the next one would go a little more smoothly, right? :)

    I have to say a big thank you to my friends Gina C., Claudine F., and LivedStories (with her little baby) who came to keep me company and encourage me during the fair. I was pleasantly surprised and very happy to see them all. And thank you to Zeina Newman, Mary B. and Josie L. These ladies wanted to be there to help but couldn't because of prior engagements.

    Stay tuned for the next post, where I'll share where I got the decorative/display items for my stand, so you can also prep for your own craft fair!