Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finds - Rainy Days

Today we have finally moved past spring showers. For several weeks the rain has been almost constant, lasting all day and hanging over night. The garden is thriving, but my spirits are a little low. Colorado is famous for it's sunshine, so I have to remember the beauty of the rain.
Perhaps glancing at this calm dark photo from AlanMogensen will help the mood...

Who says that needlework has to be old-fashioned and stodgy? This adorable little wall hanging from GooseandTrisser is sleek and modern. The fine colors of the thread on a bold blue backdrop are stunning, and perfect for decorating. A little bit of the storm to have around the house...

These earrings from TheAdornedArticle sparkle like raindrops. I love the shimmery blue color, matching the tones of a cloudy day. These would do well with a bright day too, but the elegant shape will always make you think of rain.

For some rainy day knitting (the best thing to do when you're feeling stuck inside) this lovely colorway from KnittinWolf. Put some tea on the stove and get out your crafting sticks, make something that will keep you warm while you're staying warm, the soft blues and grays will remind you of dark clouds and blue skies.

And what if gray days are your style...? LePtitPapillon has rain clouds for everyone, even in some bright not-so-rainy-day colors. That cute fluffy cloud is waiting to be hung on your wall to remind you that life is not all sunshine, and that's why it's awesome!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shamanism and Creativity

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a workshop on Shamanism and creativity. For those who are unfamiliar, Shamanism is generally defined as using repetitive drumming to enter a trance-like or meditative state; and in that state one can recieve input from spirits and natural forces. The presenter describer her experiences, and we combined visual arts and drumming. An interesting discussion but not exactly earth-shaking right?
But I had a small epiphany today, while spinning on the front porch. The smooth hum a gentle whir of the wheel are a rhythmic patterning, and I have always found activities like knitting and crochet to be relaxing. In some ways the meditative state of calmly crafting could be spiritual.
Now, the presenter pointed out, usually drumming is done to create an altered mind state, and then the creative activity takes place. She felt that her artwork was a collaborative effort between her and guiding spirits. But perhaps many of the repetitive activities we do can have a similar effect of helping us tune into a deeper world? Can the act of making be meditative, and further enhance ones creativity? Are there spiritual practices others use to harness or drive the act of creation? I know I feel rejuvanated after an evening knitting with friends, but perhaps that is just the wine....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweaters in Summer

It seems that every year sweater projects end up being finished in the summer. Fortunately it's been cold enough here that my think woolens haven't gone into summer storage yet. This sweater is a long time coming, but as with all large projects it suddenly passes the point of "stuff it in your purse" size and I stop working on it for a while...

I had nearly finished the body when it went dormant, and so I had to figure out a pattern for the sleeves. I'm doing a simple eyelet lace with the hopes that it will make the yarn stretch farther. This is my own hand-dyed wool, so what I've got is the end of it, and I'll just have to knit on both sleeves until it's gone. So far it's looking like it will be 3/4 sleeves, which would make a pretty good summer sweater...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Super Secret Quilt Blocks...

I've been doing a seriously clear out of fabric scraps, cutting them into leaves and flower petals left and right, using the tiniest leftovers to stuff turtles. And cutting little squares and triangles for a special quilt project... Why is it secret? Because if something goes horribly wrong I'll stuff it in to the back of the craft closet underneath the yarn stash and never speak of it again! (I don't think it'll come to that, but it's early so we'll see)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oh my... look at the time!

Due to an odd clerical mistake in heaven, Pink was raptured today. We expect to have this whole mess cleared up once we find her Pagan membership card... when she's back she'll have to get to finishing that yarn!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Robots are Invading!

Again! I've been on a monsters and robots buzz, my inner geek exploding on my sewing machine. Look for that section of my shop to have lots of new offerings, fuzzy and mechanical. Is there any better way to use up buttons than to make google eyes?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Crafty Ballyhoo 2011

Yesterday was the Crafty Ballyhoo, part of a Create Denver Week event, and despite it being a little cold and rainy it was a blast! There were a bunch of great local crafters hanging out in the basement of the historic Grant-Humphrys mansion.
Outside was out Up-and-Coming Vendor showcase. These 7 businesses just did a series of workshops to get them ready for Craft Shows and hopefully quit-your-day-job success! They all had awesome products, and did pretty well despite the cold.
The main floor of the building was Fashion Denver's space, and they didn't disappoint with cool goods from local designers and several fashion shows.
And upstairs was an even more rockin' time... interactive fun with craft making for all ages! Just in case people were so inspired by all the handmade goodness that they had to jump in themselves. An awesome event as always, looking forward to more Ballyhoos!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finds - Enchanted Forest

This time of year is always green, but due to some much needed but surprisingly heavy rains Colorado is starting to look so damn green it's... almost like magic?
This week we're traveling thru an enchanted forest, just like the one captured here by SeeShellsPhotography. In the north-west these sorts of vistas may be common place, but here in the high desert a grove this lush is downright supernatural!

And what good forest setting is lacking in cute (tho possibly dangerous) little mushrooms? These hair pins from GardenVibe can add a hippy touch to an outfit, or simply hold your hair back while you're running about the woods.

For the pixie in your life, or your own inner pixie, get some woodsy fun from TheFaerieMarket. With hair pieces and other accessories in a myriad of different leaf shapes this shop is awash with earthy colors and fun textures. It is easy being green...

Some magic sparkles for a romp thru the woods, this fun piece from MorningGloryDesigns adds some earthy shine to any outfit. There's a whole collection of forest themed jewelry in this shop, for those who love to accessorize!

And for us crafty folks, some truly yummy sparkle-tastic yarn! Handspun by Autumnrose this great thick and thin wool yarn would add magic to any project, fae knitting and otherwise...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vintage Quilts

Nothing better than good estate sale finds! This week I stumbled upon a pile of hand-stitched quilt "squares" in the flower garden pattern. Judging by slightly yellowed muslin and the colors and prints my Mother and I agree that these are likely pre-war! Some hexagons show the stitching or seams of reused clothing, patchwork in the oldest traditions of the craft.
I've decided to Incorporate some of the pieces into bags, but most are going to be finished into quilts. I started with some of my own hand-stitching and it certainly gives you appreciation for a sewing machine!

Monday, May 9, 2011

What a Weekend!

I spent most of the weekend in Fort Collins for the Dwell Fair. It was held in a super cool old church with lots of funky nooks and crannies full of fun crafts. And I got to hang out with my friends who live up there! Who knew that this land-locked state actually has some awesome sushi... Thanks to everyone who came out to the fair, met some interesting vendors from up there, and some folks who also made the trek from Denver.
Then on Sunday we had the final workshop for the up-and-coming vendors! You locals will be able to see the neat booth they've created (and all the goods they make of course) at the Crafty Ballyhoo this coming Sunday! ...and if I survive finals, I'll be there selling too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pricing 101

This is the sheet I handed out at a recent pricing workshop, I wanted to share some ideas about pricing craft products as part of running a crafty business. There are dozens of different systems to use for pricing, but I wanted to share an overview of the process behind setting your numbers!

There are several important aspects of determining your price, your cost basis, your market, and the value of your items. Cost basis is the easiest to determine, and usually a large portion of the price. Your market and perceived value depend on the type of item you make, and your branding.


Has three main components - Materials, labor, business expenses. The addition of all these things creates your cost, charging less than cost means you are losing money! Here's an example worksheet

Yarn prices, per batch. (For this example it's a batch of 5 2oz. 100yd. skeins)

Cost of fiber - $2.00 per ounce. For 10 ounce batch__________ $20.00.

Cost of dyes and materials - three dye baths, $.50 each ________$1.50

Labor - $7.50 per hour. 2.66 hours spinning, 3 hours dying _____$42.45

Total $64.00 (yes, I rounded)

Divide that by 5, and each skein has a cost basis of $12.80

But wait! What about other business cost?

I have a spinning wheel, dye pots, skills and experience, electricity and other utilities at my studio space (also known as the living room). And that's just the cost of making stuff. You can build these cost into your cost basis using complected algorithms, or you can be like most small business owners and estimate. Often people use a added percentage (cost x 1.25, or adding %25), but depending on the materials cost this may not be accurate. If you do have a studio space, or equipment that you rent, you can determine how many hours you use them for each item, and add the cost that way.

Note, we still haven't touched the other parts of your business!

As small business owners we are doing many other things besides creating. We package and present our products, often taking photos and/or modeling them. We market and promote, this may be just talking our items up around town, it might be buying advertising. We seek out venues for our product, and often staff craft fair booths or retail co-ops. These are hours we spend selling our products, and we need to be paid for them. There are also the cost of packaging, labeling, storing etc.

The price you came up with in your cost basis, is generally going to be your wholesale price. And most people double that to determine their retail price. If I determine my cost basis to be $15.00, then my yarn should be retailing for $30.00.


No really, that's the math. If you don't believe it, count it a different way. Keep track of all the time you spend in a week working on your business. Figure out how much you actually produced in that same week. Now determine your cost in a way that adds that in. For example, If I made only yarn, and had made only that one batch of yarn in a week, but I spent an hour a day doing some kind of business activity, that's $52.50. If you think you couldn't spend an hour a day trying to sell 5 measly skeins of yarn...

So we've done that math, and our cost basis is $127.50 that's $25.50 per skein. Not too far off. Depending on your overhead and promotions you might find that way of calculating gives you a bigger number!

Reality Check

Now the question must be asked, is anyone going to buy that yarn for $30? or $25.50? Would I buy that yarn for that much? Now we have the issues of market, and perceived value. One thing to remember - Not everyone is a crafter. We have the bad habit of undervaluing our work, because "hey, I could make that". If you make something, and it's amazing, and it's well made from quality materials, there are people who are willing to pay what it is really worth.

But the yarn? In my pricing I've had to be mindful of other crafters and my market. I am not interested in being the cheapest yarn out there, there are too may people undervaluing themselves for that. I'm not interested in being the most expensive either, for some brands and products that's the goal, but not mine. When balancing the cost and value, I settled on selling my yarn for slightly above cost basis. Not because I don't like money, but because that's the most that many people are willing to pay for it.

That leads to the last aspect, Value.

Value is different that cost. Cost is concrete, based on the amount you pay for materials, and the amount of labor. Value is created by branding, promotion, packaging, utility, beauty etc. When a certain person finds a certain item, and it resonates with them - Price becomes no object. Sadly we do not have dozens of these people clamoring for our good at all times, so we must create a price that is with the range of perceived value for our target market. If your market is wealthy fashionistas, they will see an increased price as increased value. If your market is young mothers they will be more concerned with the utility to price ratio. If you don't think your market will buy your product, you need to try and raise the value of it in their eyes.

Or, reduce your cost.

If you find yourself doing these calculations and you're getting numbers that seem totally untenable, try to adjust the input numbers. For my example, I can try to source wool roving for cheaper. I can try to do larger batches so that the dying time is split amongst more product. I can try to spin faster. Note that I came up with a hourly labor cost, the amount I pay myself. It's somewhat arbitrary, but it's what I was making at most of the jobs I had before I started my business. I didn't think it seemed right to pay myself less than other people had paid me (even if I have the perk of working for an amazing boss).

*Can your materials be sourced for less without sacrificing quality?

*Can you make things in a more efficient manner?

*Can you outsource something?

*Is your labor cost realistic?

*Can you make a simpler product?

Do not, ever, for any reason, sell your goods under cost. This is tough, but if you lose money doing something it's a hobby not a business. You may find that your price doesn't cover all the hours you spend on your business, work to decrease your cost, or to do more with less time. Don't make a business plan that involves selling hundreds of items to turn a profit, let Walmart do that. Some of your items may be break evens, and some may be very profitable, but you should not price with the intention of it being profitable "someday".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Treasuries Ahoy!

And for anyone who's ready for some warm weather - Walking on Sunshine - by TheSomedayHouse

A sampling of some of the wonderful things that can be seen at the Dwell Downtown show this weekend in Fort Collins! By Brittany'sBest

And last but not least, some locally made goodies - Shopping My Beautiful Colorado - by Day Dog Designs.