Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Loop Stitch

LOOP STITCH TUTORIAL



  1. Insert hook in desired stitch.
  2. Change direction of yarn over left index finger to clockwise. Extend index finger to length of loop desired.
  1. Grab both back sides of the loop with hook and pull draw out of stitch. There should be 3 loops on hook.
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  1. Yarn over and pull yarn through all three loops. One loop left on hook. The loop is in back of work.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Halifax Crafters- September Show this Weekend!

This is where I will be this weekend. If you are in the area, come and visit. Next week I will be back at my usual haunt at the Dartmouth Farmers' Market.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Selling Wholesale

It has been a little while since I last posted. I've actually been quite busy crocheting. The local farmers' market has been a bit slow compared to last year, however I have begun regularily selling my creations at a local store, Carrefour at the historic Properties in Halifax, NS. I had previously filled an order for them back in February. Now, I look forward to their order each month.

Selling wholesale has been a wonderful experience for me. People have approached me at the farmers' market to say they have seen my work at this store. Ideally I would like a second wholesale store (email me if you would like details) to balance out my income.

I was approached by a woman last February. She had purchased one of my mermaids at Christmas time and thought my work would fit in well where she worked. Her store specializes in local crafts, art, and literature. Since I already sell my creations as cheaply as possible, I needed to find a way to make wholesale worth-while. When crocheting in bulk, I tend to be a bit quicker and decided that if the store ordered 10 or more items they could have a 10% discount, or a 20% discount on orders of 20 or more items. In Canada, an artisan does not need to pay tax until their business makes a certain amount annually, a number I have yet to reach, so I do not need to charge tax- another benefit to selling wholesale. If a store outside of my immediate area would like to have my products, instead of the 20% discount, I would probably give a maximum of 10% off, but offer free shipping.

I fill my wholesale orders ahead of any projects I am working on for the market. Once it is complete, I will either deliver them myself, or if it is a Saturday, they will come and pick them up from me at the market. I am usually paid upon delivery. The entire process is very easy.

I'm not sure what the store charges for my creations, and honestly, it does not matter to me. I am getting the price I have negotiated, but I do not have staff and overhead costs like a store does. I feel very comfortable with my contact, and I am happy with my experiences with them.

Below is a picture of my last wholesale order- it's not a great photo, but it gives an idea of what a typical wholesale order is for me.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring Craft Extravaganza - Part II

I must congratulate the organizers for the ESDH Spring Craft Extravaganza I attended on May 2. There was a steady stream of interested customers, many vendors, and absolutely fantastic customer service for the vendors.

Upon arriving at the high school, my friend and I were greeted by three high school guys offering to help move our wares into the gym. I tend to travel very light and usually only have a suitcase and a bag, but I very much appreciated any help. Another student was at the door waiting to help us find our tables. There was a little confusion with the tables, I don't need electricity, someone else did, so we switched places. During the morning, more students made rounds, offering free tea and coffee. I also found the vendors near me quite friendly. The community of Musquodoboit are very supportive of their high school. By the number of people attending, I would think that the majority of the town's people were out, and the weather was not even that pleasant.

Sales

I have had people at my usual Dartmouth market, rudely complain of my prices. For some reason, people think that if your craft is similar to something their grandmother did, that you should be charging the $0.25/hour that was common 60 years ago. It does not happen often that people are openly rude, but it has happened 4 or so times in the past 12 months. Nothing at all similar to that happened in Musquodoboit. It was the opposite actually! I hope to find a drive out there in the summer so I can attend their farmers' market on Sundays.

Sales were fantastic! My limited experience at one other market, did not prepare me for this! I thought it was a safe bet to assume I would sell mostly mermaids. This was not the case. I probably sold one of everything. I also received an order for a dozen donuts (there will be a post and picture about it soon), and made great contacts.

I will definitely be attending this craft fair again next year!

Misc

Before this show, I changed my signs. Since my niche is with children I wanted something bright and fun. I have settled on using black foam sheet for the background, and foam lettering for the itmes. I didn't want to permanently add prices (two reasons: I had only bought foam letters and forgot to buy the numbers, if I attend a very expensive show where the set up costs are high, I want the option to increase the prices slightly to offset the cost). I tested out using some chalk with success. Here is an unfinished example of one of my signs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Craft Extravaganza

This Saturday I will not be at my usual place at the Dartmouth Farmers' Market. I will be attending the



ESDH Spring Craft Extravaganza

  • local artists
  • wood carving
  • hand-crafted jewelry
  • pottery
  • handmade soaps
  • gourmet treats

Eastern Shore District High School
10am-3pm
Admission: (Adults $1, 12 & under free)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Successful Selling, Part 1

While at the Dartmouth Farmers' Markert, I was thinking: what makes a vendor successful?

First it begins with the product. Is your product one of many similar products available. I am fairly lucky at my market. No one has else sells crocheted toys exclusively. There is one other person, and she crochets 3-foot long snakes, finger puppets, a few other toys, preserves, dish clothes, etc. A sort of mixed table. Every week Tara selling her croissants, sells out, and my competition, expands on to two tables. Sure this may seem like an advantage, however, our style of dolls is very different: I have sewn on limbs, hair, bright colours, and a wide variety of options (just look to the right to see some of the items I have for sale on ETSY). But I also must point out her finger puppets are amazing (about $1 each).

We also target two different markets. Her prices on average are half the price of mine, but more basic. Her cotton dish clothes are 3 for $5, averaging $1.66 per cloth. Given that the yarn in each costs a minimum of $0.60, her profit on each is about $1. I charge for time, not materials, at about $5-$7/hour (still below minimum wage in our area, but I take breaks, watch TV, chat while crocheting, so I am not as efficient as I could be), and I ignore the cost of yarn.

I am using Red Heart acrylic yarn for less than $4/ball. I can make about 10 toys from that ball, putting my base cost close to hers. But for me to find selling crocheted toys worth the time, and perhaps make a small business out of it, I need to be compensated for my time. While my competition, probably sells more items than I do, we probably make the same overall profit.

Other competition I have include, other crocheters, although they are no longer direct competition, since I no longer make blankets, slippers, etc, and the baby products table which has toy cubes, but again don't really make toys. I probably lose some customers to the baby table, but our prices are very comparable, so I don't worry about it.

Jewelry

I don't make jewelry, but at my market, there are probably 7 or so jewelry vendors, comprising about 15% of the market. There mostly assemblers, some (3-4) can sell a pair of earrings for about $5, one specializing in chunky jewelry selling sets for $20, and one selling handmade glass beads and using sterling silver who because of the quality and time of her work sells her earrings for $20-$25, a fantastic price for the amount of work and cost of production. At first it looks like the different jewelers are targeting different markets, but this is not always the case. Probably only 3 jewelers do extremely well. Many people don't. I have chatted with some of these vendors and some are considering changing their specialties- much like I had to stop with the purses, slippers, clothes, and blankets, but keeping the parts they love: making beads, matching colours. Some of the areas of change that are being considered include, making stitch markers, selling individual beads, paper weights, etc.

The Message:

Being successful selling means being flexible and finding your own unique niche!
(an old picture showing the variety of items I was selling, at this point I was making the shift towards toys)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Produce at the Market

Seeing that my main source for sales is at my local farmers market and in the next few weeks local fresh produce will be coming with the farmers, I have started to make a line of produce and food: beginning with carrots. They seemed like the most logical place to begin.

Carrots begin with a basic cone shape, something I have been using for the past year for my mermaid tails, although the carrots are larger than Maude's tail and smaller than Mira's tail. The leaves are made using a central chain for the stem and loops of chains off of either side. I worked the carrots using the back loop only to give it the characteristic rings. I must say that I have been quite impressed with how well they have turned out. If possible I am going to add something to the inside to turn them into rattles. I'm thinking that bells might work. I will keep you updated.

On another note, today is fudge making day! I make two double batches of fudge and a batch of peanut brittle on Fridays before the Farmers' Market. Lately the number of people selling fudge has increased (I used to be the only person, now there are 5 or so), I have loyal, regular customers. Why make fudge if I am a crocheter? Crochet sales are not as high enough to make me particularly confident so I make fudge each week to offset the cost of renting the table. Crocheted toys will last almost forever, limiting how often the same customer will buy something, but fudge is something people will come back for each week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Merman

Hmmm... if there are mermaids, then there are probably mermen as well. Barbie had her Ken, afterall (although now she is a liberated woman). The mermaids are much more popular items at the market, there is a small niche for the men.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Market Day

I had a great day at market. Today I sold mermaids, lions, monkeys, and horses. I thought I would blog which items I sold in case there is anyone following my blog that is trying to find out which toys are popular. I also have an order for next week. On May 2 (I will not be at the Dartmouth Farmers' Market that weekend) the market will be opening at 7am and the table fee will be increasing. The earlier start time generally means that the farmers will be bringing in their produce. Hopefully it will also signify an increase in customers.

Today was our first truly beautiful spring day. We had sunny skies and warm temperatures. Much nicer than last weekend's flurries and rain. The market was busy from 9:30am until 11am, but it greatly died out after that. I imagine most people were wanting to spend the afternoon outdoors.

Where will I be on May 2? I will be attending a craft fair at a school is Muscadoboit. There is also a Spring/Summer Farmers' Market in this community that I hope to be attending on Sundays beginning in June.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maude the Mermaid


Success! I have been meaning to write the pattern for Maude the Mermaid for a long time now- finally it is done and available on ETSY. I currently have one copy available at a time of any item on Etsy, and they are relisted as they are sold.

Maude was the 4th mermaid that I made. The first two were hideous. I know mermaids are imaginary, but a strong imagination was needed for the first two. Number three was very similar to Maude, with the only variations being the eyes, thumbs on the hands, and using a smaller hook size for the fins.

Along with Maude, there is Mona with her large, loopy hair, Mona who is 5 inches longer than Maude and Mona, and a yet to be named 3 inch smaller mermaid. Any M name suggestions are welcome for the smaller mermaid.

Now that this pattern is finished, I'm not sure what my next focus will be. Tomorrow is all about getting ready for the Dartmouth Farmers' Market and getting ready for a visit from my future in-laws :) I'd better start working on tidying the spare room/yarn room. Yup, the yarn stash has grown to the point where it gets its own room.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Beginning

I've wanted to have a blog for a while now, but until now, I didn't know what to write about. Crocheting has been a hobby of mine for the past 20 years. In the past 18 months I've become a crochet addict. At first, I found many free patterns from Crochet Pattern Central. For the past year, I have been working on my own patterns. Many prototypes were horrific and became toys for my two cats. Finally I am getting the hang of it.


About a year ago I began selling my creations at my local farmers market. At first I sold a hodge podge of items (blankets, clothes, pins, toys, dish clothes, etc). Eventually I settled on toys- they are relatively quick to make and a great creative outlet. This picture was taken before the market opened on a Saturday morning before Easter. I have recently started a frequent buyer programme for my clients. I am fortunate to have fantastic regulars for both my toys and my sweets (fudge and peanut brittle)

To expand my homebase, I also sell my toys on ETSY. It is a fantastic website specializing in handmade products.

My future goals are to expand my toys to include produce (so far, I have made carrots and eggs) and to begin selling my patterns. I've been hesitant to sell my patterns for fear of copying. Hopefully having a clear copyright on the patterns will help me there.