Thursday, 25 August 2011

I'm So Excited!

My decision, taken a few days ago, to try and sell some of my crafts, has inspired me to get creative.  This is good, because I now feel that I have a bit of a purpose.  The day job is good, I still feel that I make a positive contribution there, but it's becoming a place where it is difficult to be really creative.  Senior management appear to be hell bent on turning everyone into clones and I have a real problem with that.

But anyway, I have set myself a goal to create one item per evening and I must say that I have not been successful ... yet! I attempted to complete the initial 'A' intending to have it stitched, back-stitched and bordered, ready to insert into a card blank.  I got as far as completing the initial and am partially round the border.  This is largely due to family demands on my time.  So a few lessons learned are:

1. Commence stitching only when dinner has been eaten and the after dinner coffee has been made
2. Check teenager requirements for the evening. Is there rugby training? Does he require running to the latest party? Will he need help with college projects?
3. The dog MUST be fed first or else concentration will be broken by incessant whining. Drooling also not a friend to embroidery.

Then and only then should I make a start, because there is nothing worse than doing a few stitches and having to put your work down to do something else, then having to find your place in the pattern again.  I need a good solid amount of time in which to work.  If we had the space I would love a room of my own, where I could leave all my crafty things out and where I could sit and stitch for a couple of hours.  I would have an uber comfortable chair and leave the radio tuned to my favourite 80's station.  Bliss!

Anyway, I have also noted that a lot of time last night was spent unpicking a border that I started to stitch from memory, having used it lots of times on cards, only to find that it wouldn't work out symmetrically with my initial.  I ended up trawling through my designs to find a suitable border for my initial letter. So I have resolved to spend a few evening with graph paper and pencil, working out designs and borders so that I can just go ahead and stitch with speed and confidence and not have to work out a border on the fly. 

I'm also planning on setting aside one evening to make card bookmarks.  I have a tried and tested design and so plan to make many and just vary the colour.  I made these a few years ago for people in a calligraphy group I was a member of and they went down well. Easy peasy to make up so I should be able to stockpile quite a few in readiness.

Now, should I go back to crochet and stitch my granny squares into a blanket?  How many squares make up a blanket?  Not sure I have that many ....

To anyone reading this, have you ever attempted to sell your 'makes'?  I would be interested in hearing your experiences.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Selling Ones Wares

A friend of my husbands has recently gone into the cake making business and makes cupcakes and celebration cakes (if anyone would care to take a look her website is here:  Victoria Rose ) and I got to thinking that that would be a lovely thing to do full time.

I make a pretty good cupcake myself, it's the decorating that I particularly like though. Piping the swirls of buttercream and selecting the sprinkles, or maybe a sugarpaste flower or two, is very cathartic.  But even though Hubby thinks mine are good enough to sell commercially, I don't think I could.  I baked for a friends wedding last year; 29 cupcakes were required for a small wedding party, but since the cakes were to be driven up to Scotland, I needed to make 39 in case of accidents.  But to be able to provide 39 perfect little cupcakes I ended up baking about 60 of the little beggars!  The wedding theme was white and purple, so half had white frosting and purple flowers, with the other half had purple fosting and white flowers.  I iced the last one at around 3.30am and went to bed with fingers stained purple from the paste colouring and edible glitter smeared on my cheeks. The cakes looked beautiful, went down well and I was glad that I was able to contribute towards making my friends wedding a lovely day to remember ... but the experience also taught me that cake making, as a profession, is not my calling.

Cross stich however, now you're talking. I could happily do that all day and would absolutely love to have an embroidery shop where I could sit in the corner, quietly stitching, stopping only to serve customers wanting to buy floss, linens or other stitching related items. Oh and maybe to make the occasional cuppa.  Happy days indeed!

Of course there are more practical things to consider when running a business, but I thought that there's no reason why I couldn't do something locally - maybe I could sell some stitched cards at a local table sale or similar. So this is why last night, armed with my box of silks, I devised some small embroideries suitable for card blanks.  I have a selection of designs suitable for bookmarks and I thought of making a few keyrings too.  I found details of a table sale near me and my intention is to secure a pitch for December 3rd.  I'll be stitching like a mad woman from this evening on and aim to produce one item each evening.  That should give me enough items to display.  I also thought about  taking some of my other finished work and putting a sign up about taking commissions.  How much would one charge fpr a commission though? I read someones blog who suggested charging a penny a stitch, more if three quarter stitches were involed.  I think I will probably have a little think about what I would be willing to pay for the item and take it from there.

So I am very excited for my new venture.  I probably won't make much money from it, but it will be something I enjoy doing so ... result!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

An 'Ackworth' of my own?

I spent a lovely Saturday morning trawling stitching blogs and found the most amazing samplers in people's WIP. I was particularly impressed with the Mary Wigham samplers, having long wanted to do a large heirloom type sampler myself. Here's a picture of the sampler in case you are not familiar with it:

I found several people who departed from the suggested colourway and their versions looked lovely. The original was stitched in 1790 when there was not the vast array of colour choices available in silks that we enjoy now. So while there is varietion in colour, some of it looks muddy.  Then again, maybe the original colours were a lot brighter and better defined, it's just that age has robbed them of their glory?

I also found a few people who corrected the mistakes in the original pattern, producing a more symmetrical result.  Others kept the mistakes in, viewing them as charming rather than irritating.  I guess it depends on whether you believe you are stitching your own version, or a reproduction of an original.

I'm putting off starting my Mary Wigham until I decide in which camp I am.  I know that I am the sort of person who see's the mistakes, especially in patterns of such symmetry.  Slightly skewiff pictures irritate the life out of me, and I checked all our patterned mugs before purchase, for off-centre patterns and other design faults/blemishes.  So much so, that the ladies of the china department in Lewis' think I am nuts!  

I have made mistakes in my own stitching (who hasn't) which has me unpicking and grumbling, even when the mistake is so small that it could easily be incorporated into the pattern without too much bother.  So if I do start stitching this is will be a huge wrench to be deliberately doings things wrong.  But maybe that's a lesson I need to learn ...