Monday, December 14, 2015

In the Bleak Midwinter...

Our weather has just been incredibly dull lately - days and days where it feels like it's rained all day, or if it isn't raining then it's been blowing a gale. In order to bring in some brightness and cheer into our sitting room I started to put up some of our Christmas decorations early (last week - I know some people put them up in November but this is super-early for us).

All I've done so far is the mantlepiece - I just love all my candle holders :) We bought the electric light (to the left of the photo) from Ikea when we were there last month & I really love it.

We bought our Christmas tree this morning so at the moment it's in situ in the sitting room but is still drying out - I'll get it decorated tomorrow while Peter's out at work: he never gets into the whole 'decorating the home' thing so I'm better off doing it while he's out!

It was my birthday recently and this is one of the presents one of my sisters gave me :) She bought the crochet book when she was over in America on business and I LOVE it - there are tonnes of patterns that I want to try...I'll be ordering some yarn soon (I've still got an order for a pair of wrist warmers in King Cole's 'galaxy' in black) so I will keep an eye out for anything suitable for some of the patterns in this book too ;)

I've been out beach combing whenever I can but it's been hard as the weather has been so bad and I'm wary of slipping on wet rocks....

But when I did go out I managed to get to my favourite beach for finding sea glass and sea pottery treasures!

Aren't they beautiful?! To me each piece is like a piece of a jigsaw - I always wonder what item it would have come from originally, who would have owned it and handled it daily and how it ended up broken and tumbled by the sea.

I absolutely ADORE sea glass in this colour - I only ever find it on this one beach and it's very rare even there so I pick up even the tiniest little pieces.

A while ago I started selling my pieces of sea glass/pottery over in my Etsy shop - I'm so happy to be able to share these treasures with people all over the world :) I love finding them but it seems a shame for me to hoard them all in bowls etc in our house instead of being able to sell them and then people can make beautiful jewellery etc with them.

I finally made it over to St. Finan's Bay yesterday for some beach combing and I found some proper proper treasure -- not just one, or two...but THREE sea beans! These are seeds from plants in the tropics/South America that have drifted over here on the gulf stream. They are about as rare as hen's teeth and will get me in the records book for this kind of thing. 

 I also found some tiny plastic pieces

 ..and this made me smile!
 Finally these printer cartridges were lost as cargo somewhere in the Atlantic last year and have been washing up on beaches in the Azores, on the British coast and here! I'm collecting them up and will be sending them back to HP where they will be recycled. I found seven of them yesterday!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

End of the Year

It really feels like the run up to Christmas now and the end of the year - I've done all my local Christmas markets and can go back to trying to restock my Etsy shop on the off-chance that I still get some more customers there.

As always, the market in the Tech in Waterville was my best one of the whole year :) I so love the atmosphere there and that it is all hand-made rather than mass-produced stuff too. I did three markets this year - the one in Portmagee, the one in the Tech and then yesterday I attended the one at the Old Oratory in Cahirciveen.

Just like the one in the Tech, the one at the old Oratory was all hand-made/unique items and there was a great atmosphere, with pretty lights and live music. We were in the middle of an awful storm so I was in two minds about going (added to the fact that it was my birthday!) but I was so glad that I went - it was just wonderful and I'm happy to say that my takings for the day were very good.

My Etsy shop is now very depleted - I only have 8 pairs of wrist warmers listed! - though I have four pairs that are ready to be photographed and listed: hopefully I'll get round to that today or tomorrow.

I definitely want to go to the market in the Old Oratory next Christmas - I've already put my name down for it! I was lucky to get a table there this time round as I'd left it late (I'm awful at dithering about that kind of thing...) but Anshi (who was running it all) put me down for a cancellation and then rang in the week to let me know that there was a table with my name on it if I wanted it :)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

800 Etsy sales!

Woo-hoo! I had been hoping that I'd reach 800 sales in my Etsy shop by the end of the year but I managed to do it before the end of November. I'm creeping slowly but surely towards 1,000 sales - hopefully I'll reach that goal before the end of next year, but who knows?!

I'm up to 815 sales now, but things should start to quieten down a bit after the next couple of weeks. I always remind myself that these things happen when they're going to happen; there's no point in stressing about if/when they happen!

This storage cupboard is what I treated myself to, to mark the 'big 800th' -- isn't it lovely? We bought it in Ikea when we were over in England earlier this month.

I was able to get rid of four of my ugly, large plastic yarn boxes and the whole room looks much better - I love that I can see my yarns through the glass :) I still have two boxes full of yarn and a box full of my finished items but I now have been able to use one of the redundant boxes to keep all my 'packaging' stuff, my yarn books, hooks etc. Everything is so much more neat and tidy: it's great.

These wrist warmers have been my success story for this season - I just love the colour so much; it's King Cole's Country Tweed in shade 'Cotswold' - I'd bought just one ball originally last year when we were visiting Shirley for the day over in England but I fell in love with the colour and have been using it ever since -- to the point where I bought six 100g balls of it from Springwools the last time I ordered from them.

I had intended to make a scarf or a couple of cowls with it but instead I've been using it all up for wrist warmers - both the crocodile stitch ones and these scallop-topped ones.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Meet Marina! Yes, she's the twin sister to my Ondine - I decided in the end to go with a blonde wig for her -- a friend on Facebook had suggested it so that people who were blonde/brunette would be able to see how the hats would look on them when they are viewing my listings online. I thought it was a good idea and hopefully from now on (well, after Christmas, when things are a bit quieter) my hat listings will feature photos of both my models.

The head models work out quite expensive really, when you take into account the postage and then the price of the wig (and then the postage for that too!) but they will be with me for a long time to come and hopefully they will bring about an increase in my sales of hats. I'm thinking that in the Summer months, one of them can stay in Lucy's shop in the village to display my hats there, and then I have the other one for my Summer craft markets or for when I've got new hats/headbands to get listed on Etsy.

She had her first outing last weekend - it was my first craft market of the 'Christmas season' and I'm happy that it was a big success. The season kicked off with the market in Portmagee, then this Saturday I've got the fair at the Tech just down the road and then after that I'm half-thinking about going to one of the ones in Cahirciveen, if I can sort a table out...I'm giving the one at Foilmore a miss this year as it's on this Sunday and one a weekend is really enough (added to the fact that de-activating my online shop repeatedly affects my views/sales on there)

I'm really looking forward to the fair on Saturday, it really is my favourite one of the whole year - I must remember to take photos this time (I always forget). I'm really hoping it'll be a success for me, it's usually my best one of the year but of course that can can't ever take anything for granted.

We're just back from our annual trip over to England - since I started my job on the ferry we always have to wait for the winter before we can make a trip together. This year we had a night in Cardiff on the way to the Midlands, and then went from Kidderminster on to the south coast - visiting Peter's sister Sue in Seaford, a day trip to Brighton and then on to Portsmouth to visit my sister Barbara and her family.

As you can see, I did visit a couple of wool shops! I needed to buy the plain brown wool for a custom order and also have had a request for 'forest green' wrist warmers so I needed to buy the wool for them too. The wool shop in Kidderminster didn't seem quite as well-stocked as it usually was, I hope it isn't a sign of it going downhill; but I ''only'' spent £50something there instead of easily double that. We also went to the haberdashery department of John Lewis in Birmingham (which is where I bought most of the wool in the photo above - they had LOVELY Rowan stuff) - they didn't have a great selection but it was all lovely quality.
 ...and then I had a visit to Paperchase... It's always a 'dangerous' (i.e. pricey) shop to visit - I'd already told myself not to spend too much on writing paper etc in there, but then I fell in love with all of these. I always put in a little thank you note or card with every purchase from my Etsy shop, so I WILL get them all used up: it'll just take me a while!

This is the Rowan merino wool that I'd bought in John Lewis in Birmingham; I'd had a request from a past customer on Etsy to make a 'chocolate brown' hat for her friend. She wanted the same hat design/style as the ''artists' hats'' from this year (the same as the one I'd originally made for Kim)... with a little tweaking of the pattern I'd originally jotted down this is what I came up with :)
 I'm really pleased with how it worked out and I hope my customer will be too. It's a great deep chocolate shade, it reminds me of Bournville chocolate...yum!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Old Stock..

 For the second year running, Lucy Hunt has stocked some of my items in her 'Sea Synergy' centre here in the village of Waterville - I've just got back the stock that hadn't sold through the summer so yesterday I decided to take some new photos for the Etsy listings for the hats and headbands.

I'm happy to say that I sold more in her shop this year than I did last year; she had a longer season this year, which made a big difference, but I'm hoping that this is something that will build up year on year.

I love my new model head SO much -- looking back at the old photos I'd taken for these hats (when I still had them listed on Etsy earlier in the year) makes me cringe a old model isn't a patch on my Ondine :)

I like her so much that I'm thinking seriously about buying a second one - in the summer months she can model the hats for me at Lucy's centre - and then I'll have a spare one myself for the summer craft fairs and for hats for my Etsy listings...and then in the winter I'll have two for my winter craft market displays...

I just need to choose a wig for Ondine's twin sister to this space....

More New Bits and Pieces...

 This is some of the wool that I'd ordered from Germany earlier in the year -- it's just perfect for winter hats so I've unearthed it from one of my many boxes of yarn and have started to use it up!

I've made up two hats already from these shades and have just got them photographed and listed in my Etsy shop this afternoon.

It is just LOVELY to work with - it's Lana Grossa's ''Olympia Gold'' and is one that I would go back to buy (even going to the trouble of ordering it online from the same German website) - I really hope that the hats sell; I think they might sell better at craft fairs as you can feel how soft and warm they are when you can actually pick them up.

I've been so busy making things just lately - these three are wrist warmers made from King Cole's baby alpaca - the camel ones are already spoken for and the other two are in my Etsy shop. I need to get making more wrist warmers like these ones as not everyone is keen on the crocodile stitch ones!!

I've also been busy with my King Cole 'riot' - making these three hats in the last couple of days, and also finally finishing off this flower headband...(matching wrist warmers available!)

All this industriousness has boosted my stock in my Etsy shop -- I'm now up to 35 items in my wrist warmers section and 29 in my hats and headbands; giving my shop a healthier total now of 129 listings.

I've got four more hats to make in the German yarn and then I'll be going back to wrist warmers again for a while.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Items

 Here are the hats that I made for the daughter and grand-daughter of my Mum's friend - I really hope they will like them! The yarn I used was King Cole 'fashion aran' (bought from Deramores) and it's one I think I'd use again for every-day items. it's a nice soft yarn, but isn't 100% acrylic (it's a 30/70 blend of wool and acrylic)

And this is the hat for Rosie ~~~ I think that the flower really 'finishes' it off nicely - I love these colours; I'm so glad that I bought four balls of the king cole dk in this shade -- I made the hat in the chunky version and then made the flower in doubled-up dk.

...and these are the wrist warmers for Jana - lovely Autumnal colours! The yarn was so fine to work with though - using a 3mm hook - they were a bit of a labour of love.
I'd ordered yet more yarn from Deramores just lately - the riot dk will go to making wrist warmers and head bands (I am really into making matching sets now!) and the baby alpaca will be wrist warmers. I've nearly finished the camel wrist warmers already - they are for Sandra on Valentia island :) Really I'd only gone online to order the camel baby alpaca yarn, but they do free delivery if you spend over €50 so I bought a few other bits and pieces too. There should have been another shade of the baby alpaca (plum) but it wasn't in stock, so it will be coming separately in due course. 

...and here's what I ordered from the mighty Springwools (my favourite place to buy yarns from) -- again, I'd only gone online with the intention of buying the King Cole 'shine' for the pair of wrist warmers (bottom left in the photo -- they are already en route to America!)
I've already made another pair of wrist warmers in the brown/cream King Cole 'shine', which are listed in my Etsy shop, and have also got a pair made in the silver/black shade.

I'm thinking about making a hat/headband in the blue/green country tweed and also maybe a scarf or cowl...not sure when I'll get around to it though!

I'm still trying to work up some more stock for my shop/winter markets...once I finish the camel alpaca wrist warmers I *think* I'm caught up on my custom orders for the moment -- though I still need to look through my boxes to see if I have something suitable for Mary Ruth's husband (wrist warmers in forest green/tweedy yarn)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

taking stock...

I remembered this post from last year working hard and thought that I might try to make this 'taking stock' an annual event so that I have a snap shot of how much I have in my Etsy shop and how things are going.

This was last year's information...
165 active listings in my Etsy shop
  • 38 listings in my wristwarmers and cuffs section 
  • 22 listings in my bath and beauty section
  • 46 listings in my hats and headbands section
  • 2 listings in my bags section
  • 2 listings in my little beach pebbles section
  • 15 listings in my beachcombing treasures section
  • 2 listings in my supplies section
  • 33 listings in my greetings cards section
  • and 5 listings in my sale section 
 To date I've had 632 sales in my Etsy shop and my feedback rating is 363 (all five star apart from two four star reviews)


and for comparison, this is how things are this year...
105 active listings in my Etsy shop
  • 23 listings in my wristwarmers and cuffs section 
  • 19 listings in my bath and beauty section
  • 17 listings in my hats and headbands section
  •  2 listings in my bags section
  •  0 listings in my little beach pebbles section
  •  7 listings in my beachcombing treasures section
  • 11  listings in my supplies section
  • 26 listings in my greetings cards section
  • and 0 listings in my sales section  

 To date I've had 793 Etsy sales, and my feedback is 439 (all five star apart from 2 four star reviews still) 


In the last year I've been selling LOTS more of the sea glass pieces (and sea shells for crafting supplies)  - I really need to crack on with making more wrist warmers and hats....that's what I'm in the middle of right now - I still have two pairs of wrist warmers to photograph and get listed and am nearly finished a third pair. I've got 19 pairs of the crocodile stitch ones listed (and the two finished pairs are the same pattern but different colours) - I need to get making some of the 'ordinary' wrist warmers too so that there's a bit of choice!

I've been pretty busy with custom orders lately too; making a headband with matching wrist cuffs (see one of my earlier posts from this month), then making a hat with a flower on for Rosie, wrist warmers for Jana... I also had a message from a man in America who wanted two pairs of wrist warmers the same so I had to order some extra wool (from Springwools) for them - they're off in the post already now :)

I've also had an order for a 'Mummy & me' hat set for a friend of my Mum - so far I've only made the hat for the mother, I need to sit down and work out how to convert it all to a smaller size next! I've also ordered in some baby alpaca yarn for a pair of wrist warmers for a lady on Valentia and then just the other day I had a message from my friend in New York state about a pair of wrist warmers for her husband!

So all of this will keep me busy for a while; in amongst all of that I'll be also building up some stock for my Etsy shop in the hopes of big sales (and for the winter craft markets too of course).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Out and about - and a little house guest too.

 So...I've been out on my bike again since I last wrote on here :) I have a favourite route now; I head out in the Mastergeehy/Dromid direction for approx 10km and then either turn back or go home via another route...this was my third time doing it. It's nice to be able to vary the route back home depending on which direction the wind is coming from or how energetic I'm feeling.
 This road doesn't look too bad but it's a killer - there is such a slow, gradual incline....I can't cycle all the way up but hopefully one day I will be able to. It's always nice to get off the bike though and have a breather. I must take some more photos along this road as it goes through forestry land so all of a sudden there are all these pine trees.
 I just had to stop to take a photo of the little grotto - there are so many of these scattered around locally - usually in the middle of nowhere!
 I love this photo of the cross-roads - the road off to the left is the road home :)

.....and here's our little house guest. We've been looking after this little handful for a week now while his owners are away on holiday. He actually nearly was a permanent addition to our household about a month ago but Peter put his foot down and said that we have enough cats (which I know we do, but still....) so my friend kept the foundling instead.
 His name is 'Pirate' and he is a quiet one - it's taken him most of the week to come out of his shell. He cracks me up when he contorts himself to give himself a good washing; I was thrilled to have caught it on camera :)