Crochet Birds…

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A long, long time ago, I was asked if I would provide a bird for a charity event (you can see the details here), the size needed was very specific and I didn’t want to send along one of my regular birds so I got creative with some linen and a large crochet snowflake I had hanging around.  I’ve always liked the result and earlier this year decided to attempt to make something similar for the shop.
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Part of the delay was in simply finding some crochet snowflakes that scaled with the price of selling the finished bird (BTW, there is a GREAT Folksy piece here about how your customer sets the price for your work and not a calculation of materials and time, it’s absolutely spot on, although I also think you do need to track your time, but only in terms of if what you are making will ever be profitable to sell, I also hand clapped at the bit that talks about the reality of selling wholesale, well worth a read), I think I thought I would learnt to crochet myself, clearly that is not going to happen, but luckily after the festive season last year, I managed to pick up some lovely bits of crochet on Etsy at very reasonable prices.DSC_0154This photo was taken last February (hence the crappy light, sorry!), I remember loving all the colours on my desk together.  The mug was Mum’s, bought for her by my SIL who kindly let me have it when we cleared through the house (thanks A) I really like using it, in a good way.  The hat is a vintage one that’s covered in pheasant feathers that I was trying to stretch out, something I still haven’t finished doing.DSC_0161I was really keen to get at least a bunch of samples made so I could get good photographs of them over summer (big fail on this, as you’ll see later). DSC_0048Size wise, they are in-between the little birds and the lavender ones, I did consider putting lavender in them but then I’d have so stuff them to order (as I do with anything containing lavender) which is very time consuming plus I consider them more of a decorative thing than a ‘lavender bag’.
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They each have a tag attached with a ribbon, as I think it presents them nicely.DSC_0159And now for why I haven’t listed them sooner, as I’d planned to get them in the shop in early autumn as part of the whole pink phase, it’s simply that I’m not entirely ecstatic with the photo, I somehow forgot to actually get pictures of them over summer and now the days are not getting any lighter so I’m not sure I can do any better until I get a chance to set up all the lights in the studio.  I never like using photos I’m not happy with, but I also don’t want things sitting in a box and missing their ‘slot’ so for now, with not the very best image, here they are 🙂

Little Birds and Pesky Packaging…

I’ve always been very conscious of the dilemma of packaging and pricing when working on things for the shop; I’ve written about how important I think it is to deliver parcels in such a way that it feels like you’re opening something special, personally I love to receive things that are prettily wrapped, even if it’s just brown paper and string

DSC_0130 DSC_0146I’ve seen this done really well recently in many of the vintage clothing parcels that come my way (the above were from simplicityisbliss and 1940sThrowback…..I think….so sorry if I’ve got either wrong!).  Packaging I think I have nailed, but I find the postage bit a total nightmare, especially since Royal Mail put up their prices, it’s become even harder to make sure that I can get items into the ‘large letter’ category (costing 93p), as they HAVE to be under 25mm in depth, otherwise they slip into the pricing band classed as ‘small parcel’ and the price leaps up to a whopping £3.20, so you can see why it’s important.

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Which brings me to some new Little Birds that have been waiting in the wings for quite a while, simply because I couldn’t decide how to packaged them so their tails would survive intact and they wouldn’t cost more to post than their individual price, which would be silly.

I’d originally (the first blue/red ones were made up a couple of winters ago) imagined them to feature on a folded card, so they could be given at Christmas, as I really like the idea of sending cards that also double as a small gift, but as the rose brooch cards never went down that well (people always opted for the same brooch alone), I abandoned that plan.DSC_0178Instead I decided to keep it simple and just mount the individual birds on my regular card stock.

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The cards were cut down (they come A5 size) and the corners rounded.

DSC_0186As you can see, the little birds are quite plump, and along with the acorns do pose the problem of width when it comes to that pesky 25mm restriction.

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So out came all my existing card envelopes and I finally settled on white DVD envelopes.  They allow enough space for the tails and they keep the birds squished enough in girth.DSC_0189The birds have been mounted with a bow above each as I think it looks pretty.

DSC_0188They come in turquoise, cerise and the original cool blue and red.

DSC_0149 I’m not sure how well they will sell, but I’m glad to finally empty the box they have been living in for months and get them listed.DSC_0151

You can find them here…although I’m away right now and I’ve turned the shopping bag feature off…but the shop will be open again soon, I promise.DSC_0176

Little Winter Birds 2012…

Another post written a couple of weeks back that I forgot to publish:

I know my posts are very ‘shop’ heavy at the moment.  I am sorry, I do promise there are some non-shop related ones coming up but the flurry of trying to get the stock changed over for the busiest 2 months of the year (for me) does rather take over.

I’ve never been this organised before though, back in May, I had already finished a batch of new robins

and by mid Summer, the blackberry version was also complete.  Brilliant.  It helped knowing that I wanted to make more little birds in these colour ways, it’s for the same reason that I managed to have my lavender bags all done so early as well.  The little birds sell really well over winter, they look so great on the tree or dotted around the house, I have a stash of my own and I add to it each time I make a new colour way.

In which note, I was totally inspired to make a ‘dove’ version by a request on Folksy.

I imagine these will look great on a Christmas tree, especially mixed with the red robins…..they also have a hint of ‘Wedding’ about them, I feel.

They match the new robins in that the last batch have a couple of extra beads in the hanging threads, little gold ones on either side of the large faceted one.  I’ve listed the remainder of last year’s robins on Folksy and the new ones on my own website.

It’s made a huge difference working so far ahead on Autumn/Winter products, even though lots of this stock was waiting to be photographed for months, and there was still plenty to do, I suddenly realised this week that I’m ready.  I am now free to work on new designs, the pressure really is off and anything extra I make is a bonus.

Oh and I haven’t made (and I’m not sure I plan to) and any new linen mice specials, but the last pirates and a red riding hood are listed here.

It’s all Yellow…

I have spent the day so far cleaning, not as in the last post nice spring cleaning but necessary monotonous cleaning.  It’s dull and I’m bored of it now so I’ve sneaked back into the studio to do a quick post of some new goodies in the shop.

I mentioned in the last post that I had other plans for the new yellow floral fabric and one of those was a small batch of linen mice, I generally need to re-stock these and I plan to mostly stick with the original dots for the girls but I couldn’t resist a few in yellow for spring.

I also made some new Little Birds using the above as a lead for the colours

all pinks, yellows and some purple.

They have been mounted on their cards,

photographed (badly, very dodgy tones there, one to re-photograph on a brighter day) and listed in the shop.  I have also listed them on Folksy and was pleased to find some orders waiting for me this morning, it’s always nice when new things sell, means I’ve got them right.

OK, back to the cleaning and then school run, where does the time go?  I think this week si going to fly by 🙂

Blackcurrant Birds…

My oldest came home from school today very excited about a ‘special treat’ he had for me.  He decided we would turn the bunk beds into a cinema (this involves putting blankets over the sides, fairy lights up and hanging the in-car DVD player from the wall), and I would be given a holiday from working and sewing and could squeeze in and eat my tea in there with the boys and watch a movie.  As a result (and my inability to upset him by explaining I’d much rather sew and in fact have lots of household jobs to do) I am now squeezed into the lower bunk, with my laptop watching ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’.  I can think of worse things to be doing, it’s a bit cramped and smells of little boys feet but hey-ho, I’ve made the little monsters happy so that’s worth it.

Anyhow, as I’m sat here and can’t really do anything I thought I’d list some new Little Birds I finished last week.

I made the above ages ago as gifts for the boys teachers (see here) and decided then that I’d like to make a batch for the Autumn/Winter shop.

I love blackcurrants and I especially love jam and cassis made from the ones we grow in our garden.  I also love the dark purple colour, if you asked me what my favourite colour was I would never say purple but deep berry purples and wine reds are most definitely high on my list, in fact my favourite tights at the moment are some lovely merino wool wine coloured ones.  Just and extra little fact for you there, bet you really wanted to know that.

Here they are all lined up…

and mounted up on cards ready to be popped into cello bags.
Annoyingly difficult to photograph and get the colours even nearly correct, especially in the gloom of the weather at the moment but there you go.  Listed in the shop here and probably on Folksy soon….depending on how the next couple of hours go and if I am allowed to leave my ‘special holiday’.
Ok, off to cuddle little boys and swoon over Mrs Foxes yellow painting smock (I am so going to make myself one of those!) 🙂

 

Better Late…

UPDATE: Doh, completely forgot to point out that the idea for making ‘Royal’ little birds is thanks to Claire of Love Poppet who left a comment on a past post with the suggestion. Sorry, Claire, not all with it today!

As always, I’m running behind, life has got in the way of the many plans I had.  I’ve given up on Mother’s Day again (there were some products I’d planned for last year, that also didn’t get made, ho-hum, maybe next year?), Easter is approaching fast and I’m way behind there as well.  I have, however, made some little birds in suitably ‘Royal’ colours for the Wedding.

I couldn’t bring myself to use cream or white, it just didn’t work so I’ve opted for red, blue and gold.  I quite like them and I’m happy for them to be in the shop after the Wedding.

Sadly they are shocking to photograph so the above is the best I can get, I need to take some over exposed shots, I think, but haven’t really got the time for a long play with the camera so these images will have to stay for now.  They are available here and here.

In other news, I’ve been lucky to be listed in the Mother’s Day blog post over at Create, along with some great sellers, so that’s rather nice.  M is away and the boys (well, C) has been ill, hence my lack of blogging in general.  It’s not been too bad, the first few nights were shocking with both boys awake and us all ending up top and tailing in the spare bed, but they’ve slept in their own beds since and the bonus of having C at home means I’ve got quite a bit of sewing and sorting done.

I’ve been enjoying finishing some open projects and re-stocks that have been waiting, half completed, in boxes

and one day, ideally before Easter, I actually hope to finish and list the new bunny purses.  Maybe 😉

PS, Still can’t leave comments on blogger blogs where they are left on the same page (with a separate pop-up box it’s working fine, although I’m saying ‘hi’ under my gmail account as WordPress wont link) so hello, I am still reading, I promise.

All change….

It’s been a funny couple of weeks, lots of on and off drama around here, a rare weekend away for M and I, without the kids (our last was back in 2009), a birthday (mine) and of course a daily reminder of just how small any problems we might have are in comparison to the horrific happenings in Japan.

Work has been quite erratic, I haven’t had much time to sit and sew, although there are quite a few things nearly finished and some general updates I’ve never mentioned.  Above is my desk today with the current open project in the bottom corner, most of you regular readers will know what this is.

I’ve been busy packing up orders between the mayhem

I realised I’ve never shown the final photos of the new batch of little birds, which are now listed, here

and on Folksy.

Also, quite exciting news (for me anyway), I’ve finally moved hosting companies for my website.  Essentially I’ve abandoned MrSite and defected to Create.net, I don’t want to get into a slagging off session but there was a lot I was personally unhappy with, so I simply decided to move.  The main problem for me was the customer service and the many bugs, in fact I still have an open query that obviously isn’t ever going to be answered; in fairness I should mention that they are going out of their way to rectify this problem plus there is a new product due out soon, but for me this is too little, too late.

The immediate good things I notice at Create are:

  • Fabulous customer service, all questions so far have been answered quickly and efficiently.
  • The ability to have shop items in more than one category (so in SALE and another category such as Lavender Bags) with a simple tick of a box, no having to double list and manually edit the stock counter.
  • The ability to hide products so re-listing them at a later date is much easier.
  • Restricting the country for purchase to the UK only in the checkout.  In MrS Pro (which you need if you require a stock counter), payment is processed via PayPal’s pages who have an annoying drop down to choose a country which you can’t remove or restrict, this was really a problem for me as I only ship to the UK without prior arrangement.
  • Very easily customizable template and colours.  You can change the text, colour and template without loosing any of the ‘bits’ (I’m sure that’s a technical term, LOL ;)) you’ve set such as background and header, plus change them back again at a whim with no problems.  I’m fickle, I like to play around with my site a lot, I found in MrS lots of things reverted back to the basic template when all I wanted to do was change the text, so I’d have to re-set them all again.
  • I’m generally loving the shop back area in Create, there are so many things you can turn on or off and to get the exact shop functions you would like and although I haven’t tried them yet, being able to do offer codes etc is going to be great.

I could go on but you may fall asleep, I should say you can also do a 30 day free trial which is a huge bonus plus you pay monthly, not yearly, so you can leave whenever you wish.  Are there any downsides?  Well, yes, to checkout out customers are asked for full address details before going through to PayPal (oh and you can use many other payment gateway).  Personally I hate this as to me the whole point of paying by PP is to avoid filling in forms, I may loose a few of my single lavender bag customers and they are my best sellers.  Also, I struggled to find a template I really liked, my taste is quite minimal and funky for websites so some of the details just weren’t right but it’s all workable.  A biggie for me is that I’ve dropped off the Google UK search for ‘lavender bags’ where I used to be up there on page 2, now I’m no-where to be seen, M suggests this is because all the old links created over the past 2 years to my pages and products are now broken, something I hadn’t thought about 😦

I still have a huge amount of tweaking to do, including a new front page and lots of photos to re-take but I just needed to get it live.  I could be changing the details for many months yet so if you do take a look around, please excuse an mistakes 🙂

Lastly, on a slightly random note,  I need to apologise to all you lovely Blogger friends, I can’t leave comments at the moment, no idea why.  I write one, submit it, it disappears with no error message so I assume it’s gone on it’s merry way but when I check back later it’s not there; it’s been sucked into a blogger black hole and I’m afraid this may have been happening for some time before I noticed.  I tweeted about it and found I am not the only person with this problem, I’ve tried logging in/out, refreshing my laptop, using a different browser but nope, not working, so please don’t think I’m ignoring you, I just don’t know what to do to fix it (BTW, this is only a problem on blogger blogs where the comment is left at the bottom of the page, for those who have a separate pop up window, I can still say ‘hello’).

Very wordy today and not many photos so here’s another ‘nearly finished if I just pull my finger out and get on with it’ product, again you regulars will know what it is 🙂