Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Post of 2016

 Yes, I've been making more wrist warmers for my Etsy shop! I'm working my way through my stock of King Cole riot and galaxy and trying to build up some stock levels back in my Etsy shop...

I'm up to 60 listings in my Etsy shop now, but it's mostly sea glass and my greeting cards - I need to keep working away to add more crochet bits and pieces.

I've actually ordered some more wool..I know, I know..I'm always saying that I'm cutting back on my purchasing but it was a really good deal and I couldn't resist - so I've ordered four colours of King Cole's Galaxy dk and hopefully it will be here next week.

I'm thinking ahead to next year though and am determined to try and just buy wool when I need it for a custom order or when it is a really good deal or being discontinued...this is what I'm going to TRY to stick to at least...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Crochet, Crochet, Crochet...

 Look at my lovely new hooks! Peter bought me these for my birthday this month, and I think I'm getting the rest of the 'set' for my Christmas present. I've had my eye on these wooden hooks for a while; I always thought they looked stylish but was happy enough with my aluminium set. Over time though, the colour coating on my metal hooks has worn away and every time I use them they turn the skin on my hands black!
I'm delighted with these wooden ones - I'm keeping my aluminium ones as back up, just in case something snaps or I misplace one of them (it's always handy to have a spare one)

They just look so beautiful and I love it when they match the wool that you are working with :) 

Since I last wrote on here I've had another wool order! - Rosie asked if I could make her a hat for a friend so I ordered some more King Cole riot chunky from PurpleLindaCrafts, as well as a few balls of the dk version of Riot to bring it up to free postage ;)

I forgot to take a photo of my order when it came but here are the hats that I've made with the wool...

I thought I'd take photos of the same hat on my two different models so that my Etsy customers can see how it would look on a blonde or brunette...

 (this was my first time using this shade, I think it was called 'walnut'. This one is for sale in my Etsy shop.

 Rosie bought this one!

 ..and this one too!

Monday, December 12, 2016

End of the busy season

Well I've done my last of my three Christmas markets and I'm kind of glad they are over!

The one in Portmagee was a wash out for me this year (see my post here

but luckily the following two (in Waterville Tech and the Old Oratory in Cahirciveen) were my two best ever for sales!

I never remember to take photos but here's one that a fellow crafter took of my wrist warmers in the Tech.

My Etsy shop is severely depleted now that my markets are over - I just have four pairs of wrist warmers in stock, six hats, two bags, four sets of scrubbies and a shower puff (as well as my sea glass bits and pieces) - making a total of 55 listings!

It's going to take a while to rebuild up my stock levels but I have plenty of wool to work with ;)

My friend Rosie wants me to make a hat for a Christmas present and of course I didn't have the right wool in my cupboards (!) so I *had* to order some more from PurpleLindaCrafts...hopefully it will come this week!

I've also had a couple of custom orders for wristwarmers too so I'm keeping busy...

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ocean Hero (nearly!)

 Last month I was contacted by the CleanCoasts organisation to ask if I would give a short talk about my beach combing/cleaning at their yearly symposium in Dublin -- it was a bit of a shock, and I'm not a big 'public speaker' kind of person but I said yes!

Shortly after that I had an email from them to let me know that I was short-listed for one of their 'Ocean Hero' awards - I was up for ''Individual of the Year''!!

So Peter and I travelled up country on Wednesday, staying the night with my sister and her family (thanks Claire xxx) and then headed off to central Dublin early yesterday morning. Oh gosh, the rush hour traffic is unreal - it took us practically two hours to get there..I really feel for the people who have to make this journey every single day and am so grateful that we don't.

Anyway, the day went really really well - I didn't win the award I was up for but am thrilled to have been nominated in the first place and then being short-listed was the icing on the cake.

 We got these great 'goodie bags'
 ...and I received a framed certificate of nomination and we all got to bring home these 'two minute beach clean' mugs (I have wanted one of these for AGES!)

I've copied out the text of my little talk below if you want to read it (or to keep it here for myself so I remember what I said!) ....

I grew up with a strong love of natural history and, as a teenager, realised how we all have a part to play in caring for the environment. I began my beach cleaning in the 1980s, along with my younger sister, and all these years later things have come full circle and I'm happily back where I started out, along the beaches around Waterville in County Kerry.

Like many people living in a tourist hotspot I now work seasonally so I decided to fill up my winter months in a constructive way, and thus came back to beach cleaning again several years ago. The problem of marine litter hasn't lessened in those years, sadly it has got dramatically worse,  so I was delighted to find the Clean Coasts group and am so grateful for their help and support - keeping me well stocked up in the rolls of blue bags and gloves, and keeping me warm through the winter with the big beach clean hoodie I won in their Retro Rubbish competition!

Things have changed greatly in the years since I first did my beach cleans - like everyone else, I find so many more single use plastic items now, and of course there are so many more plastic bottles .... I wish that we could return to glass bottles, and the deposit/return scheme which I remember from my childhood. I often wonder how future generations will look back at how we have wasted and abused our precious natural resources.

Happily I find a lot less evidence of local dumping on the beaches nowadays - it used to be quite common to find bags of rubbish, soiled nappies or even large household appliances dumped over the cliffs of my local beach - with the attitude of ''out of sight, out of mind''. I think people are generally much more aware of the impacts of this behaviour now and am glad it's mostly a thing of the past.

 I care for the beaches in an approximate 10 mile radius of where I live - some only need a cleaning blitz once a year and then a top-up through the summer months, others just fill up with rubbish constantly after every single storm. I try to concentrate on one or two of these 'bad' beaches a year and then work away on some of the other 'easier' beaches at the same time. I generally work on my own - as, to be honest, I've found it quite hard to get local people interested in helping on a regular basis, people are busy and are often happier to take part in the larger occasional clean-ups that local groups run in the lead up to the tourist season...but I'm happy enough to work away on my own at my own pace. I'm a firm believer in 'every little bit helps' and 'do what you can when you can' - and still believe that we all have a big part to play in environmental issues both locally and globally.

Our local council have been a big help in taking all the rubbish away and I am indebted to the local Fás workers who have on occasion helped bring the filled bags etc up to the roadside for collection. 

As many of you know beach cleaning can be back-breaking, monotonous work so I try to make it more interesting for myself - keeping an eye out for the unusual and taking photos of my more uncommon finds. I  have found a network of like-minded people who help each other to trace things back. Through Facebook groups like 'Lost at Sea', 'Orkney Beachcombing' or my own 'Beachcombing in Kerry' page,  I've been able to put names and faces to some of the items I have found here, and twice I've had the honour of returning lost fishing gear to widows in America; one in Maine and the other in Florida.

My beach cleaning has put me in the news on both sides of the Atlantic a few times now - I think people like a feel good story about making connections across the ocean but hopefully at the same time they are learning about the sheer volume of marine litter that is out there too. 

Through tracing items back - such as buoys, floats, lobster trap tags etc I've made some good friends along the American and Canadian coasts -- which has helped me (and them)  realise what a small world we live in and how connected we all are. A friend in Nova Scotia now cleans her local beaches, having seen how much of the rubbish I find here has come across from there!

The social network of us beach combers has also played a part in tracking cargo losses - such as the 'famous' Lego one - I found a black Lego octopus a few years ago and didn't realise what it was until I posted a photo of it on one of the beach combing pages. It turned out to have been the first recording of these items to have been found in Ireland as they have mostly been washing up on the Cornish coast. Most recently we've been tracking where HP printer cartridges have been washing up; HP haven't said how many cartridges were lost as cargo off the Azores but over a thousand of them have been found by beach combers in over 500 locations from the Azores, and  the Portuguese, French and Spanish coastlines as well as Ireland, Denmark and Holland.

In addition to the rubbish that I collect, I always keep an eye out for natural items. Over the years I've found several coconuts and sea beans which had drifted from central or south America to land on our shores - last winter was a bumper year! I send any photos of the jellyfish I find to Tom Doyle and 'the big jellyfish hunt' on Facebook and am a volunteer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group - traveling to any strandings locally to photograph and document them. I also collect any dead seabirds that I find and pass them on to Heidi in GMIT where she analyses their stomach content for micro plastics. I like to think that my efforts in keeping our beaches clean of marine rubbish can help the scientific community as well as the environment.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Yet More Wool

 We've just come back from a very quick visit over to England to see Peter's daughter and her boyfriend - staying for a few days in the Midlands - so of course I managed to fit in a trip to the local woolshop while we were there.

Over the last couple of years I've noticed that the woolshop is kind of moving in a different direction; maybe trying for a different market? But they don't have so many of the more expensive brands now and are selling a lot of the cheaper, acrylic yarns not really what I am looking for.

I still managed to buy all these (in the photo above) - including a pom-pom maker!

In a way it was a good thing that they weren't selling the yarns that I like to buy: otherwise I know I'd have ended up spending a LOT of money there...

A friend of my sister's has very kindly given me the wool in the two photos below! It was stuff she'd bought but won't be using for one reason or another so I was happy to take it off her hands (she didn't want any money for it so I will be making a donation to Action Aid shortly in thanks)
 It'll be my first time using either of these yarns - I don't think I've ever used ANY Red Heart brand yarns, but this one feels nice :) and the Tivoli 'Rocky' is a new one to me - it's lovely chunky yarn. I'm thinking about making scarves from both of them - there's tonnes of the Rocky one, she'd bought enough for a jumper for her husband!
 In the meantime I'm still making crocodile stitch wrist warmers!
 The three below are new shades of King Cole's ''Riot dk'' and I like them all - I love their choice in colours and this is probably the one yarn that I have used more than any other for these wrist warmers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Portmagee Christmas Market, 2016

This afternoon I went to my first of my Christmas markets - I'm only doing three (I think that's all I usually do?!): Portmagee, the Tech and the Old Oratory in Cahirciveen.

I've a feeling I didn't do so well at Portmagee in previous years - I'll have to go back and check in my little book - but this year broke the mould...I just sold one headband!

Things can only get better! I'm not going to let it get to me; the markets are always a bit hit or miss and it isn't worth getting upset over. I always bring my crochet with me anyway, so I was able to work away even though I wasn't selling anything: and my 'neighbour' was my friend Kate, so we nattered away a lot of the time.

Things have been really dead in my Etsy shop just recently too; I haven't had a single sale through Etsy all this month. Things *should* be starting to pick up there in the run-up to Christmas but there's no sign of that happening this year :(

I feel like I kind of had my peak season earlier this year - when I sold all those crocodile wrist warmers (at the end of September/into October) and that might be it now!

It isn't all doom and gloom though; I had an email from Jaye (my best customer!) and she wants to buy all of these - it'll be 9 pairs of crocodile st. wrist warmers, 2 pairs of plain ones, a headband, two hats and a shower mitt. Phew! I took the photo so that I could send her a reply back to make sure I'd put all the right ones aside for her - the ball of wool at the bottom will be wrist warmers in a day or so.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

More Taking Stock

Lucy has shut up her centre/gift shop for the winter now so earlier this week I got all my bits and pieces back from her.

She's been open for three summers now and each one has been more and more of a success for my crochet and cards.. I'm really happy with how I did there this season, and if it can be improved on for next year then that's even better again.

Now that I've got some more stock back, I'm up to 88 items in my Etsy shop (I still haven't listed the hats/wristwarmers for Jaye yet) and I have another pair of wrist warmers to photograph and list either today or tomorrow.

I've added these wrist warmers and hat to my Etsy shop - they were in Lucy's shop and I hadn't listed them on Etsy first so they are 'new' to my shop.

 I need to get these two scarves listed too, once I've got Peter to work out the postage for me first.

After I made the turquoise wool ruffled bag a few days ago I wound off the rest of the wool from the cone and I still have 1.2kg left of it - I want to make at least one more of the slouchy 'artists' hats in it and then maybe another ruffled bag and then see what's left...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Annual Stock Take

Well I know I just said yesterday that I was going to put off my annual 'taking stock' post until I got everything back from Lucy but I've changed my mind and am going to do it anyway today!

2015/2014 stock taking post

My listings in my Etsy shop are WAY down on the previous two years: this time last year I had 105 listings and 165 the year before that; I don't think I've been making less, just that I've had a lot of sales of wrist warmers in the last month or so and am struggling to make up some stock again.

It's a good complaint really as things have been selling so well but I do want to get some stuff made up before the winter markets - my first market is just under three weeks away.

Once I get my 'old' stock back from Lucy's shop that will bump up my stock levels a bit but I do need to crack on with making new items for sale ....

I've only got a total of 67 items listed - that doesn't count the two hats and four pairs of wrist warmers that I have in reserve for Jaye's next order (towards the end of this month) 
  • 10 listings in my wrist warmers and cuffs section
  •  7 listings in my bath and beauty section
  • 11 listings in my hats and headbands section
  •  1 listing in my bags section
  • 13 listings in my sea glass/sea shells section
  •  2 listings in my treasure jars section
  • 21 listings in my greetings cards section.

As of today I have 966 Etsy sales and a feedback rating of 521 - I think I still just have two four star reviews in total. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy HallowE'en!

 It's the last day of October already - yet again, time is flying by so quickly...

This time of year is usually when I do my annual 'how am I doing?' post - listing how much stock I have, how many Etsy sales etc. but I am going to delay it a little this year as Lucy's 'Sea Synergy' centre is still open in the village and she has a lot of my stock.

I can't wait to get my stock (and money!) from her - so that I can add the listings back in my Etsy shop; I think she's open til the end of this week and then it'll take her a while to go through all the stock and work it all out. I usually do very well in her shop (I think people do like to buy something handmade) so hopefully this season will have been as good as the previous ones for me.
 I've finished making this ruffled handbag for a lady on Etsy - I've just listed it this afternoon and have sent her the link so I hope that she will be happy with it... It was the first one of these that I'd made in ages - they are actually really quick to crochet but the sewing part takes best part of a day as I sew everything twice and then sew in the ruffle three times just to make sure it's super-secure.

They were one of the first things I started making and I'm not sure how many of them I've sold now - they use up SO much wool though! This one was made from the second 2kg cone of Donegal Tweed that I'd bought for the hats/wrist warmers for the artists' retreat on Valentia and I still have lots of it left.

I just weighed this bag and it has taken nearly 400g of wool!

PurpleLinda sent me the replacement ball of KingCole's 'galaxy dk' recently so I was able to continue making these wrist warmers - I've listed them this afternoon.

I'm trying to crack on with making more and more pairs of wrist warmers - I sold SO many in the last few weeks (thanks to that article on Bored Panda in September) but I really need to try and build up some new stock for my Etsy shop and the local Christmas fairs.

It's looking like I'm going to three local markets this winter - Portmagee, Waterville and then the Old Oratory in Cahirciveen. I like going to all three - there are probably a couple more that I could go to but that's really enough for me :)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Merino Hats and More..

I've just finished these two hats for Jaye- made in this gorgeous merino wool from Rowan. I'd originally made her a hat for a friend in the same wool last year (in chocolate brown) and now she's asked me to make one for her friend's sister and one for another friend.
I'd a bit of trouble tracking down the wool as Rowan have discontinued it but my sister Barbara found a website that still stocks it - laughing hens so I was able to get the correct wool. It's lovely wool; I really don't know why wool companies keep discontinuing things when there wasn't anything wrong with it.

Amazingly Jaye, who just placed an order for 12 pairs of wrist warmers (10 for her friend's shop and two for herself) says that she wants to order some more pairs for Christmas presents next month! The provisional list is up to five pairs already with maybe a couple more in the pipeline!

I finished these wrist warmers last night - it's a new shade of King Cole's riot dk -- called 'rainbow' and I love it :) The colours blend so well from the one to the next one, I think I have another one of this colour 'in stock' somewhere in my wool cupboard...I've really lost track of what I do and don't have at the moment as I've ordered so much wool lately.

Right now I'm making a ruffled handbag with the Donegal tweed wool - I'd a message from a lady through Etsy asking if I could make one for watch this space for photos....

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

More wool! This is what I'd ordered from PurpleLindaCrafts just recently - and she also sent me the replacement ball of King Cole Galaxy DK to replace the faulty one. I can't wait to start working through it all: it will all go for crocodile stitch wrist warmers apart from the three balls of cotton - which will be for scrubbies :)

I started on these wrist warmers last night as I'd left my other crochet on Valentia Island!  This is yarn that I'd first bought when we were on holiday in Germany and just recently was able to buy some more online from LoveKnitting (in the UK) - it's much finer that what I ususally use but I love the colours.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rainbow crochet

 I've been working through my list of custom requests - and have made this matching set of scrubbies and a shower puff for my step-daughter (for a friend's birthday) - I love how they turned out and have enough of the cotton left for more :)

 I'm happy to say that I have finished Jaye's mammoth wrist warmer order: these are just ten pairs that she bought in the photo- she bought another two pairs and then a hat as well!

 I was very glad that it all went ok and they are now en route to Bournemouth and will soon be in her friend's shop (she already sells my scrubbies)

One of the other pairs she bought is in this colourway - it's 'Foliage' in King Cole's riot dk - a new shade for me but I really like the colour combination so I will be adding these ones to my shop and have ordered another ball of the wool.

I will be adding these Autumnal ones to my Etsy shop later today (once I get all the photos taken)

Nearly half of my lovely Ikea wool cupboard is full of King Cole's yarn! - mostly their Riot dk or Country Tweed (which has been discontinued) - I would say that they are my favourite and most used brand of yarns for my Etsy shop as they are affordable and great quality.

They have good customer service too as I found out recently ... I was making a pair of wristwarmers in their Galaxy dk in 'Plum' and reasised that half the ball was like this - a tangle of much thinner yarn (made up of just the sequins and the threads that run through the yarn normally - there wasn't any wool in this section at all) I posted a photo on their fb page and they got back straight away, asking for my phone number; and a lady from their customer service dept phoned.
I will be getting a replacement ball from PurpleLindaCrafts as that is where I had bought it from - which gave me the opportunity to order some more wool :)

I have two orders due to arrive soon because as well as the one I just placed from PurpleLinda I've ordered some wool for a pair of hats for Jaye (she really is my best Etsy customer!) - don't ask me where I'm going to store it all!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

 It's feeling so Autumnal now - even in our conservatory: my friend Jana gave me these lovely German woodland decorations as a gift just recently (the squirrel one also has felt acorns on the string and the hedgehog one has felt apples)
I'm now officially on my winter break from my day-job on the ferry, having completed my 11th season there.
 I brought in my camera on my last day to take some scenery photos and some detail photos too (I love the old ropes that we have on board)
 this last one says it all - the ferry looks so badly in need of a coat of paint by the end of the season!
 Since I last wrote on here I've ordered yet more wool - Jaye wanted a pair of teal sequined crocodile st wrist warmers in with her large order so I ordered it from PurpleLinda in the UK.

It was hard to get hold of; it turns out that it's been discontinued (why do they do this?!) so I ordered enough for two pairs of wrist warmers and then a few other colours too...

...and a couple of King Cole's 'riot' while I was at it...
Hopefully Jaye will be able to choose the remaining pairs that she wants from these - or I've just taken a snap of the other colours that she might like 

 I'm so grateful to her for wanting to buy so many pairs but I will be glad when they have been shipped off and she has received them!

When I placed my order with LoveKnitting (see previous update) I also ordered this pure cotton for a custom order for some scrubbies and a shower puff.
 I love these colours and think that they will all turn out really lovely in it! The ball is approx 300g so there will be plenty of it left over for more scrubbies etc.
I'm feeling up to my ears in crochet projects at the go - which is why I'm so eager to finish Jaye's order for the wrist warmers - it's unusual for me to have a long list of things that people want me to make; usually at this time of year I'm just concentrating on the build up to the Christmas markets etc.