Monday, February 20, 2012

new blog ... charity baby blankets!

Please check out my new blog that I just started yesterday. :)

Since DH & I are in the process of adopting, we've also taken in some foster kids. They often get into the system in an emergency situation, and with very little to start off in their new (albeit temporary) homes. I've gone into a bit more detail on the new blog about the whole situation, but the point is, smaller children (babies, toddlers) often not having their blankies with them. That's why I decided to contribute what I can, and I hope that fellow knitters and crocheters can help out and follow suit.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

a couple posts & articles worth reading

If anyone has chatted with me lately - and by lately, I mean the last year and a half or so - they very well know my opinion about the state of etsy and how poorly I think of what the site has become.

I had a shop on etsy for years - since they started, practically. I had one shop, initially, and then opened a new shop there.

At one point, @ least 60% of my sales came from alchemy requests (for sweaters, large projects, etc) and I easily earned a few hundred dollars every few months. Since alchemy closed down a couple years ago, I've lost that revenue.

Also with treasuries: Treasuries were limited to 333 at a time, and they expired after 2 or 3 days. This allowed for more obscure items to be featured, and being in one was a much more coveted spot. Nicer treasuries were being made, and a lot more handmade was being featured on the front page. This isn't happening any more, since treasuries have now changed.

Chat has closed down. So everyone who was using the chat room for help no longer gets help from fellow etsians. Also, many people had a few sales a month from the chat room, which was also lost. This was the last straw for a lot of people.

There isn't a week that goes by, it seems, where etsy isn't making DRASTIC and disfunctional changes. Not to mention all the resellers, wholesalers, manufactured goods from China, trademark & copyright violations and fake vintage that isn't being policed. This blog post details a few of the most recent changes, that happened after I left.

Etsy claims that it's because of a lack of staff and money, and yet there are many reports from reputable sources that state that etsy's revenues are in the millions of dollars.

If you still make handmade, or support handmade, please consider a move to zibbet. I don't work for the site, but I have moved my shop there over a year ago, and it was the best move I've ever made. There is a free account option, and the staff who run that site do a FANTASTIC job at customer service as well as supporting handmade. It is still a relatively new site so it does need a little extra promoting, but keep in mind that etsy was the same way in its early days.

A lot of this post has been inspired by this article published in business week magazine, originally linked via regretsy. It's amazing how etsy has managed to get on the nerves of so many handmade artists, and the site still fools itself in thinking that it can fool non-etsians that it is a supposed handmade site.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

queue the owl cup cozies!

I think that out of all the (meager) patterns I've designed, the best and most popular one to date is my owl coffee cup cozie ... so far 393 made on ravelry and 921 in queue, to date.

For some reason, though, I've gotten mildly obsessed with checking out its queues more so than any other design I have. The highest number of queues in a day has peaked at 10, over the last 180 days (back in September) and peaked at 5 in the last month.

It's a given that this is a small project, and many have posted that it's a great, easy way to learn cables.

I would love to have another day of queues peak at 10, or even beat that record. I've no idea how to have that happen, but it would be stellar. Valentine's Day is a week away... I wonder if this would make a great gift for that occasion?

Friday, February 3, 2012

where things come from, and where things go...

I've had this on my mind for a while now, so I apologize in advance if this blog post seems a bit scattered.

I've been in etsy and zibbet for a while now, buying and selling and frequenting the chat rooms etc; there has consistantly been an issue of handmade vs wholesalers, supplies & "handmade" that come from China, etc that people have issue with.

And yet, disturbingly, their supplies all come from the very places they claim to loathe.

Then the holidays roll around. Not just the December holidays, but other gift giving events like birthdays or whatnot. There's the buying-from-big-box-stores issues, vs handmade. Big Box makes their revenues for that quarter, and yet handmade still stays in shop. Same sellers complain about how they dislike Big Box Store, and yet their supplies come from there. And, did they lead by example by avoiding Big Box and buy entirely handmade that season? Not likely.

But this is nothing new. It has been going on for years. One just musters and shrugs at it all and hopes that the next holiday is better than the last.

Then, though, I come across articles like this one in regretsy - not so much complaining about Big Chain X stealing the ideas of indie artists and not giving them the credit (at the very least) that they deserve, but then go off to make a ton of money off of it. All designers, all big name retailers do it.

Yes, it's irritating that they do it, but what's even worse is that people will buy it. And if not the item(s) in question, they will still buy from these big retailers, which is equally as bad, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not.

I know that if there are any comments to this thread, there's bound to be a few that will say, "Well, there's a recession on, that's why we shop at Big Box Store." ... or ... "I don't like Company X's business practices, therefore I'm not one of the people you're venting about." (Meanwhile half of their closet is filled with Company X's things.)

The best excuse that I have heard in the past, and from fellow handmade online sellers, is "I'll buy once I have paypal money to buy it." Which means, if we're perfectly honest, it's not going to get bought. The comment may be well intentioned, but it's really something we've gotten into the routine of saying. 

We all know, both the person hearing (reading) it as much as the person uttering it, that it's really not true. For some reason, there are a lot of people who view 'paypal money' in these forea as money that's not really there, it's somehow 'extra' or 'invisible' money that's just floating out there in the interwebian universe. Supplies bought at Big Box X comes from our bank accounts. And yet supporting handmade only comes off of the bare minimum we make off of what we've made.

Here's been my thinking, when it comes to gift giving (for whichever occasion): I know I have 'x' number of dollars to spend per person. How much that is may vary from season to season or year to year, but I know ahead of time what that 'x' amount is. People's birthdays don't change from one year to the other, neither does Christmas. I can budget for those pretty accurately if I put in a fiber of effort into thinking ahead for the next month or so. The varying amount of 'x' doesn't solely rely on what's in my bank account, but ALSO what's in paypal and whatever other accounts I may have. Because, despite it all, what I have in my paypal is still not only money, but money I've earned, just like the money I have in the bank.

From there, I can budget what I can buy for whomever for whatever the holiday is. Naturally, I want to buy an appropriate gift for the recipient, because at the end of the day the gift really should be what they want more than what I want to give them. There's not much sense in gifting something to someone that's just going to collect dust in a shelf or turn into closet insulation. And yes, often their gifts wind up being Big Box Store items, or Company X gift cards etc. But, can I squeeze in a handmade gift here and there? It's always budgetable.

A lot of people in my family tease me for starting my Christmas shopping early. I'm one of those weird people who has my Christmas knitting done by June or July - why? Well, because wool has its best sales, I've found, in January thru June, so that's when I buy it to make whatever holiday knitting I'm going to make. I may as well have it knit while what I want to make is fresh in my head, and it gets put aside until December.

Plus, I've worked in retail for so long, that I refuse to go to the mall in December. I rarely go to stores and malls to begin with, so if I happen to be in a mall in September or October, and I pass by a store where I see a potential gift that I know someone will like come xmas, it gets bought then and there, assuming of course it fits into my budget to do so. That way two birds are killed with one stone so to speak: an xmas gift is out of the way, and it's one less item that's going to make its way onto my December credit card bill. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

The same goes if I see said gift on etsy or zibbet. I know it's handmade, I know I'm supporting the artist who made it, and if I see it before December - well, all the better, I don't have to worry about said package fighting the holiday rush of the postal service.

So, what's the point of this whole blog post? Well, to be honest, it's more of a vent than anything on my part. I suppose I'm mildly frustrated at the fruadulence of it all. Every dollar spent at Big Corporation X or Sweat Shop Country Y, is a dollar we're taking away not only from our own country, but a dollar that we're taking away from our own handmade artisans.

If you can afford to buy a birthday gift, or a holiday gift, you can afford to buy handmade. Whatever your gift-giving budget is for each holiday, try just for a year to spend at least a third of it on handmade, or better yet at least half. Invest in quality. It's always best to have less but have quality, than to have lots which isn't. Before your next shopping trip to Big Box Store or Trendy Company Brand Mall, research what you're buying into. We live in an internet age, it'll just take a few minutes, trust me, it'll be easy enough.

Whether we like it or not, what we financially support is who we morally support. Keep that in mind.