Wednesday, 29 February 2012

That green-eyed monster

Extra Crafty Art Print by thedreamygiraffe

The idea for this post on the green-eyed monster came to me when listening to a podcast by the phenomenal Sister Diane last night. She was interviewing Liz Smith about her shop and she mentioned how normal a feeling of envy is when appearing on the craft scene online.

Everyone seems to have a better shop or writes a better blog. They seem to know more people or have more twitter followers than you. It's so easy to focus on this to the point where it holds you back.

It's all about patience and learning from other people. Do you read an article by a top seller on etsy and get infuriated because it's not you? Or do you sit calmly, make sure you read it through for tips and advice and value the article, thanking its author for their wisdom?

When you compare yourself to you it feels great. It's all about your personal best. If you sold nothing last week and you sold five items this week that's great.

It's also about not making assumptions about people's experience or background. If they get picked to write an article or be interviewed or are particularly good at online marketing or html then they've obviously got some experience or knowledge that may not be apparent to you unless they have their full CV online for you to browse.

Why waste your time getting jealous of someone's genius PR idea when they have 15 years of marketing experience you don't know about at a top company? There's no way you should ever compare yourself to them if you are just starting out in online selling.

That green-eyed monster is truly destructive. It eats all your positive thoughts and demolishes the time you need to spend working hard on your crafty business or other career.

Remember, don't compare yourself to strangers. Compare yourself to you.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Creative Process

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts. I've been bedridden with a very heavy cold and haven't turned my laptop on much for about a week. This collection of yarn really cheered me up!

On the plus side I've had lots of time just to lie and think, which is something I rarely do these days. I tried not to worry about all the things I wasn't getting done and focused instead on thinking about all the projects I have on the go and reviewing them all. The last time I reviewed everything was in November after my last cold and a few good things began to happen as a result.

It got me thinking about switching off and just doing nothing. Sometimes this is more productive than sitting at a laptop toiling away, sending emails to editors, studying harder, marketing the business frantically. Sometimes it's incredibly good just to stop.

Anyone who does anything creative knows that about ninety percent of the creative process is doing anything but being creative. It involves going swimming, walking, weeding, visiting your nan. Moments which Virgina Woolf would call 'non-being'. The last ten percent is when you finally sit down at your laptop and write the story, or article, or finish the project you're on.

So instead of being full of worry about the court visit I missed and therefore the article I couldn't write for my diploma portfolio I'm choosing to focus on all the wonderful thinking I did and where it may take me.

Have a good week!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Four year blog anniversary!

Image via Miss Cake on Folksy

Four years ago today I sat down with my old slow laptop which was about to grind to a halt and started a second blog. This blog. I was in quite a dull job and wanted to blog without conflict, something I couldn't do on my first blog where I was writing pretty much every day back then for a political party. Comments would arrive in my inbox which were argumentative, sometimes abusive and exhausting, creating negative energy in my evening.

I decided I wanted a truly positive space on the web. Somewhere I could revive my old hobby of crafting. I had cross stitched a lot during my teenage years but never crocheted, knitted or sewn. I had recently started going into craft shops during lunch hours to de-stress where I would buy packs of cards to decorate. It wasn't enough. I needed something bigger, more magical, to absorb my boredom-induced stress.

I started the blog with no digital camera. Just a camera phone. I was so full of enthusiasm I didn't care about that. What I did care about was reading other bloggers. I found Alice from Future Girl and Julie from Little Cotton Rabbits and felt instantly part of a different, friendlier, community.

For most people the first few months of a blog aren't always relaxing. No-one reads your posts and you aren't quite sure what you want to write about. I eventually bought a digital camera but my photos were awful. I used to look back on my blog posts and not feel happy. For the first six months my blog didn't really cheer me up. It didn't make me sad either but I knew I would have to stick with it for a long time if I wanted as many readers as my other blog.

Eighteen months after starting the blog I started my first etsy shop which for a year took me away and it became rushed and barren. All my energy went into producing items for the shop so it looked like I was blogging-to-promote all the time. Now I have a set amount of items in my shop and in the last twelve months I’ve had more money and time to spend crafting as a hobby again. I feel as if I have gone full circle. There is lovely feedback in my shop and in my inbox about my blog and I feel as if I have created a fully positive space to inhabit on the web.

If you are a regular or ocassional reader thank you for supporting me and I look forward to inspiring you in the months and years ahead.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Book Review: Stylish Sewing

Stylish Sewing by Laura Wilhelm is a pretty alternative to the Cath Kidston craft books. It's more practical, containing patterns for pyjamas as well as skirts, and it delves into sewing for men, still a niche area for sewing books.

It contains a full-size pattern sheet so there is no need to enlarge on a photocopier, a task which often deters the novice. They overlap each other to save on space and are printed on very good quality paper designed to last a long time.

There is a good selection of projects, 35 overall, but sadly only one toy project at the back of the book.

Overall there is: one toy project, one clothes project for a boy, one clothes project for a man, eight clothes or accessory projects for young girls, ten clothes or accessory projects for women, five for the kitchen, six for the bedroom and three for the lounge. Perfect if you are a woman wanting to sew for your daughter and your home.

What I love about this book is that there are basic projects to adapt to your style, such as a skirt and pyjamas, but there are also new styles I have never seen before in a pattern book, such as a dress designed to go over jeans which I am thinking of making, and the apron, which is unusually designed too.

The book has four pages on basic techniques at the back if you are new to sewing. Choosing fabric is covered and a website where the fabrics in the book were obtained is clearly stated. Allowing five per cent for shrinkage is also explained, a point I haven't come across in other sewing books.

Sylish Sewing is beautifully shot, simply presented and very accessible to both the novice and experienced sewer. The fashionable and trendy clothes are very up-to-date and you will want to make them all. If you have never sewn before buy a sewing machine and buy this book. I can't think of a better place to begin.

Buy Stylish Sewing here.

This book was sent to me to review by Search Press.
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