Archive for October, 2007

SALE – Silver Crochet Jewelry

In an effort to consolidate my inventory, I’ve marked all the silver crochet jewelry down 15%. Free shipping when you buy two or more pieces. I’ll also package your pieces in an upcycled felt pouch. If each piece is intended as a separate gift, please specify this in the comments so I can make an extra pouch.


While I do enjoy working with beads and crochet, I’d like to focus my energies on felt. I hope that in selling off the jewelry, it will make my shop look a little more coherent. Custom orders are always welcome, and I expect to make these items for gifts in the future, but I don’t think they belong in this store.

Bonus Envelopes

This last week has been slow in the shop, so I’m taking advantage of the breather to read some of the tips experienced Etsy sellers offer in the forums and watch some of the helpful how-to videos posted by staff in Etsy Labs.

One of the suggestion made by a staffer was to improve your customer’s experience by adding a treat with their purchase. It can be a colorful tag, a handmade thank you card, or embellished packaging.

My partner in domesticity dutifully sorted through the leaning tower of mail detritus threatening to overwhelm our kitchen this weekend, resulting in an equally large tower of recycling perched precariously on the filing cabinet next to my desk. The danger in asking anyone else to taking care of a task like this is that they will throw away things you were keeping for an unspecified future project; this is also the very reason to ask someone else to do it.

Another post was regarding the use of recycled materials, such as pages from a magazine or catalogue, in your packaging. I’m all over that! Look at that pile! I retrieved two great magazines from the recycling, and then proceeded to cull interesting ads from his oversized sports magazine – why do they make them so large? We won’t speculate too long on the connection between monster trucks, power tools, really large televisions and sports, but there is definitely a common denominator here.


Pull out my trusty self-healing mat, wooden folder, x-acto blade and envelope template and I’m off to work. An hour of cutting and folding later, I have a decent stack of handmade envelopes to use and share. Editor’s Note: the template was purchased at my local stamping store, Impress.


A set of blueprints and a map of rural New Hampshire made the nicest envelopes. The paper is sturdy and light enough that I can write over the print.


Who can resist making an envelope out some glitter art? Is it safe to say that much of the art created by children is too sweet to throw away, but not distinctive enough to frame or file? I bought a pair of large accordion files for the household art last year, so we can file it all and decide at a later date whether it is worth keeping. But in the meantime, why not make an envelope out of the flashy pieces?


These ads were perfect because they didn’t have a lot of text crowding the middle of the page.


Most of the ads I chose have dark backgrounds, necessitating a label or a colorful address block affixed to the front. But I think they still have value and charm.

Next on my list of ways to personalize my shop: custom address blocks and tags made with a gocco. I’d love to hear reviews, pans or suggestions. Are they worth it?

Illustrator Credit

Credit is long overdue for the wonderful work by artist Geninne Zlatkis, creator of my spunky mascot, SpiderFelt.


I believe a post about this mobile first drew my attention to Geninne’s work. There is something so wonderful about the simplicity and liveliness in these colorful leaves.


Geninne is a professional illustrator who sells prints of her work in her etsy shop. This print is now framed, sitting on my bureau, waiting to be hung. Her work is detailed, quirky, imaginative, playful and luscious. If I don’t read any other blogs during the day, I always visit Geninne just to see what she has drawn today.

In an effort to promote the work of talented artists who fill the pages of Etsy, I plan to regularly highlight purchases I have made there. The etsy administrators will soon be launching a marketing campaign to encourage people to ‘buy handmade, buy local’; this will be my contribution to the cause.

While I’m sure there are several other bloggers who do the same, the idea was brought to my attention through the site Sock Prøn who chronicles her purchases on EtsyFriday; while it is easy to say “I could make such and such’, or ‘That looks so simple’, the reality is that you haven’t made it and someone else has: Seize the moment and buy it. Bring something lovely into your home and sprinkle some money around. As an aside, my husband is convinced that etsy is kept afloat by the mutual admiration society that exists between artists; if we are buying each other’s goods, are we actually making any money? Good question, but I know talent when I see it, and I also know my own limitations, so when I see something well made, it is worth stepping up.

Purple NunoFelted Wrap

This was a project that took months to come together. Like a fine oil painting, I’ve worked on it several times until I was satisfied that it looked right.

Starting with a silk scarf printed in a multi-colored pattern I bought from my local consignment store in the spring, this was my second attempt at nuno felting. Since my first piece shrunk dramatically in length, I thought I would try placing the roving across the piece, spanning the width instead of the length.


My plan worked a little too well. When the wool had sufficiently penetrated the silk scarf, the fabric looked like changed at all. With the busy dot pattern on the scarf, the stripes of magenta didn’t really provide enough contrast, nor did they provide balance. There was something missing, but I wasn’t sure what, so I put it away. It ended up in my suitcase when I went to New Hampshire on the off chance that inspiration would strike, but it didn’t, so back home it came untouched.


After examining my first nuno felted scarf, I decided the best part was the puckered silk. To reproduce this effect, I added a second color crossing the first on an angle, but starting on the opposite side.


The end result was just what I had hoped: a transformed piece that can be worn many ways. This item is now listed in my shop. If you’d rather learn how to make your own nuno-felted scarf, I’ll be teaching a workshop in my home on Wednesday, November 7th.

Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner?

Waiting for my husband to photograph me modeling my scarves in the last shreds of twilight at 5:30 while the family clamors for dinner just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Last week, I put a request out to the members of the EtsyRain team looking for a mannequin I could borrow for a photo shoot. What I had in mind was a dressmaker’s mannequin, something upholstered with a wooden knob or cap at the top of the neck. This is what I got instead: meet Stella, the latest addition to the Adams family.


It appears that the new retail manager of a national department store chain has decided mannequins wearing wigs and makeup distract from the clothes too much, so their collection of mannequins was posted on Craigslist this week. Thanks to the eagle eyes of Cheryl Zettler, Stella and five of her cohort went to new etsy homes this week.


Walking into the basement of their downtown store was like entering another world. There were racks and shelves of display items, besides the body parts, wigs and headless mannequins standing around. If you look carefully, there is a bronze torso lying on the table, and a pale-skinned mannequin without a head is standing behind the little boy. I’m not sure if it was the bald heads, or the staff using the mannequin’s privates as handles that made me so uncomfortable, but I haven’t had giggles like that since I was learning to drive a stick-shift.


Dianne, the interior specialist who helped me choose my model, was both patient, helpful and kind. She answered the questions that belied my naivete and inexperience in this arena. Here she stands with Stella, in her dismembered form, resting in a cart. You can imagine that after days and days of selling off these excess props, the same questions have come up a few times, but her attitude was never condescending or short, despite my dumbfounded expression.


Granted, I’m not much of a fashionista, and my curly hair defies styling, but Dianne’s wigstyling tips were pure revelation. She suggested stuffing a little tissue paper in the back of the wig to give her hair a little volume at the back of the crown. I’ve always wondered how women get their hair to do that. Did you know mannequins have little patches of cork embedded in their temples and skull? T-pins are stuck through the wigs to keep them anchored in place.

Two layers of eyelashes make their faces look lush enough to stand out from a distance. They wash clean with soap and water, and wear the same layers of make-up as humans. I’m still struggling to get her lipstick to cover evenly; Dianne suggested using concealer so the lipstick has something to grab, but I couldn’t get it to stick. Perhaps my concealer is just too old. Is ten years beyond the expiration date?


I’m not sure where Stella will live in our house. For the next few days, I’ll keep her upstairs and try to remember I’m not alone in the house.

I Heart Etsy

The title of this post should be community building – part deux. My shop is part of a network of craft sellers who maintain their unique storefronts on If you’ve never heard of etsy, think of ebay without the auctions, made just for artists of every persuasion. Etsy provides the backdoor code for our shops for a small fee, and we provide the goods. You can search for a particular store if you want to find something created specifically by a particular artist, or you can search across the entire site for ‘red scarves’, which would bring you paintings of red scarves; felt, knit and crochet scarves; a skeleton scarf; handpainted silk scarves; red feather boas; and a batik sash.


Shortly after I created my shop and started posting items, it occurred to me that the world thrives on connections, particularly this type of world. What better way to build community online, than to support people making their living the same way I do. Your local yarn store is a great place to buy lots of roving, particularly if you are just starting and want to see how different fibers work. However, if you want something unique, or if you want your purchase to go straight into the pocket of a live person, start with etsy.


The roving I used for this windowpane scarf is from Copperpot. The rovings are created from custom blends of hand dyed merino. She also sells lots of wool/tencel blends and tussah silk, perfect for spinners working on laceweight and sock yarns.


When I booked my first felting workshop, I wanted to have lots of color choices to offer my students, so once again, I looked on etsy for a vendor who could provide several pounds of merino in various colors. Handsandnotions filled my custom order quickly with beautiful, soft roving. The blue ball in the center of the basket created the background for the Seattle City Cohousing banner at the bottom of my last post on community. As it turns out, the box arrived after my workshop, so now I get to use it all by myself. Gee shucks. My students used the just-fine-but-nothing-special New Zealand roving-by-the-ounce from Weaving Works, and I get the custom dyed batch.

The next time you have to buy a birthday gift for Aunt Flo, a farewell gift to your niece on her way to college, a shower gift, or a birthday present for your boss, look no farther than etsy. Why spend your money at a big box store when you can pick something up made locally by hand, especially if you can pick it up with your hand, as in handed to you by the artist.

Most large cities have organized groups of etsy sellers called ‘street teams’ who band together to collaborate on shows, pool collective resources, and market their wares. You can look for your local street team on the Team Etsy site. Seattle’s etsy street team is ‘EtsyRain‘. You can search the tag field on Etsy to find a local artist, or you can come to the Fall Thing Craft Fair at the Phinney Center this Saturday. Meet the artist, shake their hand, learn about their technique and take your purchase home without paying for shipping or excess packaging.


Community Building

Sometime after the birth of my first child, I realized just how much I needed a supportive community to cushion, support and teach me, and how much I wanted this same community so I could share, celebrate and contribute to the growth of families around me. We spent some time investigating existing and forming communities in the Seattle area, but didn’t find one that was a good fit. We waited a couple of years, and then after the birth of our second child, we embarked on a three week tour of the New England to visit various established and forming communities.

The only community that seemed right was too far from Lance’s family, so we ruled it out, and decided to move back to the town where his family lives. We hoped that by surrounding ourselves with family we could find community. They were wonderful, but we were exhausted by the reality of living in rural New England; our days were spent in the car driving, driving, driving on winding roads that made our children nauseous and left me weary. Nine months after moving, we were lured back to Seattle by Lance’s former employer. A three month contract led us to a home purchase in the community-rich Phinney-Greenwood neighborhood.

Since moving here three years ago, we have consciously tried to involve ourselves in our neighborhood. We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood where many amenities are accessible on foot. Walking to the library, post office, book store, yarn store, bank, barber shop, grocery store, coffee shop, preschool and farmer’s market turns familiar faces into friends.


However, when some friends were forced to look for new housing options, the subject of cohousing came up again. Pretty soon we had committed to forming Seattle City Cohousing with the stated goal of building an urban intentional community in North Seattle. Our group of three families has been meeting bi-weekly since June as we are committed to expediting the process as much as possible. Ultimately, we hope to have twelve families in our community as the wisdom of elders states this is the ideal number to balance the ability to resolve conflict and still maintain connections.


It is with some trepidation that I embark on this project because I am keenly aware just how much work goes into this sort of effort, far beyond the nitty gritty of finding a property and creating our dream homes. There is also some reluctance to leave our home and neighborhood, but the lure of living with souls I cherish is just too strong. Our children have so much to gain from growing in the company of many adults who nourish and treasure them, and I have so much to offer to generations of children who will come through our community.

Teaching, Felting, Selling

Since I started writing this blog nine months ago, I’ve tried to make it more about what I do and less about me. However, life has become so busy in the last month that the two have overlapped to the degree that I can’t make a distinction. I’m doing something I love as a business now, and not because I have a little spare time.

Last month, I opened my etsy shop, signed up for my first craft show and launched a series of felting workshops. I didn’t anticipate that all three ideas would be successful so soon, nor was I prepared for how it was going to turn my house upside down.

While I’m thrilled to be doing so much felting, sewing and teaching, several things have had to take a back seat. First to go was blogging, second was reading other blogs, third was the laundry, fourth was cooking for my family. I’m still documenting all the art that is happening around here, but I haven’t been able to carve out the time to sit and write.


This morning, my friends Linda and Rima came to learn about needle felting. I made a seahorse, which turned into a checkbook cover after everyone left; Rima did a beautiful illustration of three ladyslippers, and Linda experimented with texture by twisting the roving into spirals before applying it to her felt. Now that I sit down to write, I realize I forgot to take pictures of their projects which were both worth sharing.

Tonight I’m teaching a class to eight women at our community center. I’m full of excitement and nerves, partly because I know the more excited I become, the less coherent my instructions are. Speak slowly. Calm down. Take it one step at a time. There is so much I want to show and share; I hope I can convey some actual instruction instead of running around like a headless chicken.

In case you are wondering, the craft show was a dud; the booth cost more than I made in sales. I sold four items, and two were to people who knew me and came to the show just for me (thanks Carrie!). My aunt bought my checkbook cover right out of my hand, hence the new seashorse. The silver lining was that it forced me to finish a bunch of items which had been languishing around my house. A friend gave me super advice for improving my products, help me set up my booth, kept me company throughout the rainy afternoon, chatted up passersby who might have been tempted to just pass by, and boosted my flagging spirits; she is the BASF for crafters. Now I have a shop with new items, and many more to photograph and post (if you are interested in a felt bead necklace, I have three hanging from the curtain rod in my office waiting for pictures).


It is safe to say that our world is drowning in plastic cast-off by consumers around the world; whether it is little black toy wheels in the stomach of a juvenile albatross, or trees in the Amazon girdled by grocery bags, plastic is an evil that will endure far beyond our lifespan.

Since a lot of my work uses recycled sweaters to create wool felt, it seems logical to package gifts in a multi-purpose fabric pouch. What is a jewelry wrapper one day can be a camera case, glasses case or credit card holder another day. Sew two quick side seams, a button hole and the pouch is done.

My current dilemma surrounds my responsibility as a seller to provide wrapping or packaging for items I sell at a show. This Sunday October 7th, I’ll have my first booth at the I Heart Rummage craft show. Do I have to buy bags to hand to my customers? What do customers expect? What will they accept?

I have lots of clean, dry grocery bags in my kitchen. Would customers object to receiving their purchase in my reused plastic? While I have some small-handled gift-size paper shopping bags (you know the kind you get from upscale retailers), I don’t think I have enough for my purposes. My other idea is reusing the colorful coated gift bags people buy for birthday presents; lots of them have either seasonal motifs or childish prints on them, but they would serve the function. I’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions, and if any of my local readers have small paper bags they’d like to contribute, I’ll be at the Fiber Gallery tonight.

Flickr Photos