Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Getting stuff done

I had two days off my day job to do various life admin stuff, some of which included getting things finished that I'd been working on for ages.

Some handknitted baby blankets that I planned to donate to a different charity in London (but ended up sending to Woolly Hugs because they sent me their mailing address in double time, before I could lose the email, which is what happened the first time around when I know I saw a link for where to send them on facebook but couldn't find it again by the time I'd woven in all my ends).

My Oh Comely care package is on its way to Liverpool in the post.

I took part in the Inver Cottage craft fair on Sunday (I had the fish and chips).

I even went to see a gig last Wednesday night in Edinburgh, by Public Broadcasting Service.  It was one of the most intense and entertaining gigs I have ever been to (and in my previous life as a music journalist, I've been to a lot).  I enjoyed it so much, I almost had a review drafted out in my head on the way home in the car, I may work it up if I get five minutes in the next couple of weeks.  But for now, I'll say that it was a very good time, and the people watching was as much fun as the show itself.  And I was able to impress with my newfound t-shirt printing knowledge to point out to my friend which shirt was the best value for money i.e. the most expensive to produce but still priced the same as all the others.  I love me a bit of insider information!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Is it November already?

I can't believe I haven't blogged in two whole months.  They have been two whole super-busy months, mind you.  Here's a catch up on what you missed while I was missing in blogging action.

I started a new business, and had a bit of a crowdfunding adventure.  If anyone wants to hear more about our experiences, let me know and I'll blog about it.  It's going pretty well, and it's been great working as part of a team with a fellow creative person, and a supporting cast of fantastic designers.  We are launching our online shop any day now, and the first batch of orders will be sent out very soon - they are being finalised by the printer as I type!

I took more than 50 orders at www.girlindustries.etsy.com - a large percentage of which were custom orders for a combination of last-minute and forward-planning brides.  This kept me busy!  November has been quiet so far, so if you wish to order a package of envelope seals/custom stickers, multiple packs of confetti for your big day, or other elements of table decoration or packaging, now is a good time to get in touch about your requirements.

I've been working full time in my day job, and have had to scale down my freelance working at least until Christmas.  I am not sure what the new year will bring, but for now I can take on short-life projects like online shop support and proofreading/editing work and usually turn these around within 48 hours.

I have been continuing to destash my craft room and although you can't really tell to look at it, I have made a serious dent in the level of supplies I've been holding on to.  I still have a long way to go, but plenty of projects underway to help me with it.  Now the room has to be even more multipurpose than ever, I need to use the space more flexibly and in a more organised way.  I can feel another eBay binge coming on, I hope they have a free listings day soon!

I've signed up for two fun swaps over the Christmas period.  The first is organised by Oh Comely magazine and I have been partnered with someone who is going to be so fun to make for.  A mum-to-be with a love of all things vintage.  I have the perfect gifts in mind.  The second is a decoration swap organised by Laura over at Dropstitchblog.  I have no idea what I'm going to make, but you can still sign up for the swap until midnight this evening, I think, so get involved!

I've been reading Posie gets Cozy a lot and feeling inadequate, so I try to only read it now and again, and treat it a bit like a made up world.  I do love that blog (and I loved making Maggie Rabbit, and A enjoyed helping and seeing Miss Maggie come to life) and I'm grateful to Alicia for sharing her life.  It also reminds me of being on honeymoon in the Pacific Northwest, of real seasons and time to sew, knit and cook to my hearts content.

I've also been a bit more sociable lately, and have been to craft fairs, meeting up with friends, having family days out, and this week I'm even going to a gig.  Which will no doubt make me feel super old, and I will be driving, and trying to cope with an early morning the next day, so possibly not the best idea ever but I am looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Keeping busy

So this is why I've been so busy lately - working on a new project with Jo of StellaMyStar.  Nearly ten years ago now I had a conversation with a fellow crafty type about creating a line of children's t-shirts, but I couldn't create the necessary artwork myself (no skillz) and the artist I first approached to collaborate with didn't see how their work would translate to a t-shirt format, or how someone could sell t-shirts outside of a traditional clothing store setting - why sell online?  Won't people need to try them on first?  Well luckily the independent handmade sector in the UK has changed a whole lot since then!

Fast foward a few years and suddenly everything fell into place.  After many years of running my own businesses and a few more years of working with crafters, artists and designers in Glasgow and beyond, I was in the right place to get started.  Jo and I put our heads together last July and we started planning - it's been a long time in the pipeline, but somehow time speeded up on itself last week and all of a sudden we were ready to launch - and to make sure our t-shirts will be ready to post by the start of December!  Up until the middle of last month, only our designers and our immediate family knew what we were planning, and now we are ready to shout it from the rooftops.

You can find out more about the project, and how to buy from our first collection of t-shirts at the Mimi and Will website at mimiandwill.com and you can pre-order from our first collection here - the best part is you don't even have to choose which shirts you want straightaway, which is great because we have lots more shirts lined up to release before the end of October.  Please share our links with anyone you know who has children or might need child-shaped Christmas presents!

and p.s. - Girl Industries isn't going anywhere - so shop with confidence!

Friday, 9 August 2013

All change!

I'm having a huge sale in my Etsy shop right now to clear inventory and let me make room for lovely new things from September onwards.  As more of the older stock clears, I'll be adding a few surplus supplies I have to my Etsy shop.  I have big things planned for the shop!  I'm planning to continue with stickers, tags and more paper goods but I want to work in my favourite colour palettes and work more on a themed basis, in tune with the seasons, and with trends.  I'll still be keeping it as upcycled, green and eco-friendly as I can, but I want to make my range more stylish and more coherent.  I want to work towards bringing my customers a great visual shopping experience while retaining the quality of a great product and the price of a great buy.

I'll be discontinuing my current envelope range, but you can always ask about custom orders if there's something you'd like me to make for you.  I'll keep the zines in my shop too, and I have a new one drafted up that I just need to typeset and choose the cover for, and we're good to go!  Oh, and I still do work to proofread and edit listings, and remotely manage a range of online marketplace accounts, so get in touch if you'd like to talk about those services.

The main reason I'm scaling back on the Girl Industries shop is that the other work I have on at the moment (full time day job, a carefully built up freelance portfolio from when I did not have a full time day job, and a new additional business venture on the horizon) is becoming too much to manage alongside such a diverse mix of products and supplies - not to mention trying to fit in a home and personal life.  By scaling it back a little, I can cut myself some slack, I hope, and try to find more of a balance between everything.  Every purchase you make from the shop will help me towards that goal, so if there's something you've had your eye on for a while, there's never been a better time than right now to pick it up!

I know a lot of my crafty pals and readers are in a similar boat at the moment, so what are your top tips for finding balance in your life?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fun days out

For a couple of weeks in the summer we were able to spend time together as a family and do a few day trips.  These included:

Blue Peter Garden at Media City while I was staying with my folks in Salford

A close encounter with some ducklings at Tebay services on our way home

Strawberry picking (and more besides) at the fantastic Cairnie Hill farm, near Cupar

Fun with meercats, penguins and some pretty terrifying tigers at the Blair Drummond Safari Park

A day at the beach at Burntisland, Fife

 Yes, those are hundreds of people on a tiny strip of sand all going shades of lobster in the 30 degree Scottish summer sunshine.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

On holiday

So back in the olden times, I'd have cleverly researched, drafted, got photo clearance and scheduled some fascinating blog posts to tide everyone over if I was ever took soon time out for myself over the summer.  Well, times have changed and I'm super busy and needed a real, proper, break so here I am with an update on where I've been, instead.

First up, I went to see my old school for one last time before it gets knocked down.  The old sports hall (which was opened to great fanfare during my time there) had an amazing exhibition of old photos from over the years - including a few of me on stage in various productions.  I kind of wish I'd stuck with the acting but my parents weren't so keen on anything extra curricular, preferring me to concentrate on the academic side instead, so I dropped it shortly after being offered the role of Viola in Twelfth Night in 6th Form.  The role went instead to someone who's now a very very very well known theatre director.  Just like if I'd stuck with the radio alongside my old co-host (who's now a very very very well known Hollywood movie editor with an Oscar nomination under his belt) or my old student journalism chum... who just wrote the Guardian's lead article on the new Alan Partridge film.  Can you see a theme here?

Anyhoo, in the interests of being a bit more extra curricular, I'm super-busy with all kinds of improving activities.  I just took on an extra role (and an extra day) at my day job.  I'm working hard to focus and rationalise my Girl Industries range - more on that in a blog post still to come.  I'm also working on a freelance basis giving support and providing practical services to a number of online outlets, which has been really interesting work and is definitely something I'll be sticking at.  I also have a brand spanking new venture which I was spending all my Fridays on when I wasn't working in my day job on Fridays.  This new venture should be up and running in the next couple of months, and it's something I really really can't wait to share with you.  And did I mention I have a 2 year old and a long-suffering husband...?

And all this comes from one photograph on the wall in a disused sports hall.  I always come out in those psychometric tests as a 'text' person and not an 'images' person, but maybe my increased attempts to broaden my horizons are proving to be an instant success!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy 4th!

Patriotic buttons by ThisOnesMineDesigns on Etsy
I thought I'd help celebrate what I just heard described as 'the day the UK and America had a break-up' by doing the blog equivalent of 'drunk-dialing' to reminisce about old times.  Sorry for the lack of photos - you'll have to go clicky on the links.

Here's the first half of a list of my top ten places to visit in the States, and why I like them...

Fannette Island

I took an afternoon cruise around Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe back in July 1999, and was told about an English eccentric who built a castle on the island and had her butler row her out there every day to take afternoon tea.

With a little investigation, this lovely vignette turns out to be somewhere on the scale between borderline and absolute CLAPTRAP but it's a great story and the real information behind the place is just as interesting.

Lake Tahoe is on the border between Nevada and California, and my friend Jo and I were actually there to see Tom Jones. We weren't disappointed! Although the flight into town from Las Vegas, over the mountains in a single engine plane, was pretty hairy.

Lost River Caves, near Bowling Green

Apart from playing a key role in the American Civil War, and also being the rumoured hideout of outlaws like Jesse James, the best thing about this place is the fact that it was used as an underground (literally and perhaps figuratively) nightclub back in the 1930s. A bar area is hewn into the rock and there's a substantial dancefloor area too. Our tour guide when we visited (me and Jo again, but this time in July 2007) told us that the advent of air conditioning alongside laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol did for the bar in the end, but it's great that it's been restored and kept so well - a really interesting day out.

The Intersection of 1st and 1st, East Village, New York

Before I even noticed this wonderful hidden gem, this particular intersection has some great memories for me. These are mainly to do with shrugging off hangovers on the way to the 2AV station to catch the ever-useful F train, drinking coffee outside in snow or heat to wake me up for a day's shopping or sightseeing or trying to fortify myself for a day out with family! It's just around the corner from the storefront radio station, EVR.com where you can see Mark Ronson, Andy Rourke and other well-known musicians broadcasting all day every day. I've spotted everyone from Moby to Chris Klein and overheard all sorts of bizarre conversations right here - 'you've lived in New York your whole life and you never ate felafel? We're going for felafel RIGHT NOW' - three club kids heading into SoHo at 6.30am, presumably heading for home but with breakfast first. I also had to chuckle to myself as I overheard a girl chatting to her dachshund, Nathan - great name for a sausage dog! And you know where the F train goes... Coney Island! I think that's synchronicity (or something...)

Mount Hood, Oregon

I think I've probably mentioned this place to everyone I know at least one time too many, now, but I can't recommend it highly enough! On our honeymoon, the husband and I drove up the first 6000ft of the mountain, as I'd heard about the brunch at Timberline Lodge on the internet and wanted to give it a try. As soon as we arrived, we changed our plans, we were going to stay! After the super-helpful reception staff gave us a mini-tour of the rooms available that night, we splashed out on a lovely little room near the bar bwah ha ha. Best spur of the moment decision ever. The scenery, the facilities (outdoor swimming pool!), the staff, the restaurant, the bar, the brunch (wow, the the bloody mary here is excellent), the history (and I'm not just talking about the exterior shots for The Shining, or Roosevelt's visit in the 30s) and if I hadn't pretty much ruled skiiing out of my life when I realised quite how accident prone I am without the added bonuses of snow and sheer drops, I'm sure I'd love the outdoor pursuits available almost year round, too.

Roosevelt Island
Okay, so like many of my working days in midtown, I'm back to the F train. I spent New Year's Day 2006 exploring Roosevelt Island with my cousin and his wife (who just had a baby daughter on Monday - hooray!). All of us had worked in midtown only blocks from the island, but none of us had ever made the trip across on the tram (or cable cars, as I would call them). At that time, gentrification was just beginning, and new apartment buildings were springing up or being sold off plan. We walked a full circuit of the manmade island, and managed to spy plenty of cool sights, like an abandoned and empty swimming pool (this photo by Alex Guidouk is so much better than the one I took), the former hospital at the south end of the island that was used in the creepy Dark Water movie, and even managed to fit in some time for delicious lemon meringue at a diner, yum yum.

So those are my first five....

More to come!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Maggie Rabbit

Life is a bit hectic right now so it's very rare I get to sit down and actually make anything for the sheer love of crafting these days.

So I treated myself recently to the Maggie Rabbit pattern over at Posie gets Cozy, mainly because I hadn't finished a project for Amelia in ages - the rug and the quilt are STILL on the go - and I wanted a little quick win that would help me use up some of my fabric stash in the process.
I'm not sure what's going on with her ears here, but they are lined in blue and grey dotty fabric, which co-ordinates perfectly with her skirt

Downloading the pattern made it even quicker to get started, although I did wait a couple of days for some felt yardage I ordered on eBay - I didn't have quite enough of the same colour to make all the rabbit parts.  Now I have enough for several rabbits but that is no bad thing - there is a family baby being delivered AS I WRITE which is super-exciting and of course will require lots of gift-giving opportunities.

Anyway, I cut out the pieces for the rabbit in about half an hour, then sewed them up over the course of 3 one-hour train commutes - although if I'd remembered my scissors on the first day it would have been a bit more productive.

I hadn't had time to actually get the sewing machine out and set up for months, and we had a bit of a false start on Sunday morning, when I finally decided that the rabbit needed more than a single pair of boots (one of which has been lost for the last two weeks, anyway) to keep her warm.  Thank you to everyone who gave me technical support over Facebook - I think it was down to the fact I was sewing with denim - it was pretty lightweight denim but still.  So by the time I got the sewing machine out and ready to go, I wanted a bit more of a challenge and decided to have a go at adapting this skirt pattern by House on Hill Road.  I want to make a not-quite-as-twirly version for Amelia, so I took the opportunity to test my maths, but in miniature.

Maggie seems to have a bubble skirt effect going on, but I think that's partly down to the stiffness of the denim as well as the shortened main pieces of the skirt.  I'm looking forward to showing you the results of the child size skirt as soon as I get another chance to sew - and hopefully this side of Christmas!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Eating from our garden

Slightly scattergun approach to radish planting effected by child making run for front drive

We've had nearly two whole weeks of sun tan weather here, what a difference it makes to our life at home.  Our garden has been fairly neglected since we moved in, but after knocking down a dilapidated shed, moving MANY barrowfuls of pebbles, digging up lots of old paving slabs, a full carpet, miles of plastic sheeting (maybe an exaggeration) and making do with only plastic troughs for our (eventually drowned) home grown food last year, this summer we are on track for a much improved outdoor space.

We're not there yet, as the mound of pebbles where the shed used to be will tell you, but since last Friday we've been eating from our garden with the first few crops of radish.  Next job is making the shed we're keeping a bit less friendly to woodlice and wasps, replacing its roof and if I can convince the husband, painting it in some pretentious National Trust colour.  I want sage green with beige accents but I'm fairly certain I'll be getting Creosote and told to like it.  Hey ho.

So only the radish came from the garden, and the child only ate a babybel and some ham but it's a start

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Oregon honeymoon flashback

Happening right now on the Posie Gets Cozy blog.  A visual feast, if you like rain and lush green trees, interesting buildings and well-used solid wooden tables.  And knitting.  There's always lots of knitting.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Calling all stationery fans

I'm in love with this website, LagomDesign.co.uk 

I want ALL the cards.  Sigh.  At just £1.20 each, I think I can indulge myself a little.

Here are my favourites, in no particular order:

Tiger card

Sausage dog card

London card

Thursday, 30 May 2013

But where would you keep it?

Image courtesy LacklusterCo on Etsy

Reasons why I shouldn't buy this:

I haven't been within a 100 mile radius of anywhere in Pennsylvania since Christmas 2007
I like to model myself after the traditional English eccentrics, but I'm not sure that mounting this in a perspex box on the flat roof of my craft room is really viable.  We get a lot of gulls, for one.
I kind of wish this was still on a coaster somewhere.
I'm not made of money.
I'd want the blue one, too.

Reasons why I should:

Just look at it!
Also I have a lime green and tan living room.  It fits right in - well, colour-wise if not space-wise.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Wedding season!

Wedding season is well and truly upon us.  I've been neglecting my blog in favour of some really fun custom orders, a little bit of last minute market activity (how could I turn down the chance to go to a duck race?!)
and lots of finishing off those little jobs that just don't seem to do themselves.

We've also been trying to catch plenty of rays while the weather has been so lovely in Scotland over the past week or so - it's not often we get one over on our south of the borders neighbours where weather is concerned!

I was lucky enough to be featured as an entrepreneur of the month for my business school alumni newsletter, over at Mountbatten.org  If you know any recent graduates who'd like the opportunity of a lifetime to get excellent business experience and a qualification taught by some of the world's best academics, I strongly suggest you send them over to the website.  I think everyone who does the Mountbatten Programme is an overachiever by nature, but let's just say that I know a fair few people who are doing spectacularly well for themselves as a result of it, so it's a great investment.  I was lucky enough to have two placements as part of my course, one in HR at the North American HQ of a well-known international shipping company, and one with a well-known European couture house.  My research project was about setting up a virtual PA agency called MoreLife - in 1999 - I was so ahead of my time!  We decided that the PAs would get around Manhattan on scooters and wear special embroidered polo shirts.  We actually had a proper business model in there somewhere, too - I still have a bound copy of my dissertation to prove it!

I also had some amazing volunteer opportunities while I was working abroad - taking shelter in WTC1 during a sponsored walk that turned into a blizzard was a great experience, being a marshal at the NY marathon, meeting Hillary Clinton during a women in business breakfast event and having to tell her I was an intern, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky thing, not such fun times, but my excellent communication and diplomacy skills got me out of that one.

Back at Girlindustries HQ, I've been doing a lot of destashing of supplies and thinking about which products to discontinue.  After temporarily closing my books for orders of bespoke envelopes, I've decided to discontinue the stock I have of pre-made envelopes, and you can find the bargains in my shop by searching for sale envelopes.  I will bring back the option to buy custom-made envelopes, but they are taking a little seat on the bench for the next couple of months while I focus on tags and stickers, which are doing ever so well right now.  My craft room is very much in the 'worse before it gets better' zone right now, so no photos, sorry!

I've also been doing a bit of Etsy shopping so more on that in the next couple of days, while I take advantage of the good light for photos!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Putting my feet up in the garden

As we have been gifted with some lovely sunshine (and I actually sunbathed in Manchester yesterday, imagine!), I thought I would treat you all to a discount on something to read in the garden.  If you're new to the Answers on a Postcard zine series, they are themed little booklets, each based around a single interview question I asked of various creative types over the course of a year.  If you look in the top right hand corner of each issue's front page, you can see the names of a few businesses featured in each issue, to get a taster of what and who to expect.  The interviews themselves were so much fun to do, and the answers vary from wise, to surprising, to hilarious.  The first issue was a book review issue, and had a lot of info about some popular and less well-known papercraft, knitting, sewing and all-round making things books.  Issue 8 is mainly pictures of craft spaces - a theme I never get tired of!  There are 12 issues altogether, so definitely something for everyone.  If you just want to try one, they work great on an individual basis, but equally well as a series.  They're a bit addictive once you get started.

All my hard copy zines are reduced to half price - including subscription packs.  You could buy the whole series for $15 plus shipping - bargainous!   All digital zines are still $1, and my job for today is to make them instantly downloadable, using Etsy's new instant download feature.

***ETA  NY Zine is fully downloadable, but as you can only add 5 files to any one listings, AOAP digital zines will have a turnaround of 12-24 hours following purchase***

But for now, I'm heading into the garden to get the last of my seeds planted and contemplate pressure-washing the patio, which apparently is meant to be pink, and not sludgy grey.  No, much too much like hard work!  Back to relaxing.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dreaming of the sea

Today I'm working hard in my craft room but in my head, I'm beside the sea.

My new treasury list, here.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Busy summer

I'm making forward plans for lots of fun and challenging things to do over the summer months.  There's travel, networking, making, learning new skills and plenty of hard work, besides.  So I've decided to make things a little easier on myself and from the end of April I will close my books for custom envelope orders until later in the year.

I've also decided to make a little space in my craft room so I'm offering a 60% discount on my stock of envelopes which are already made up and ready for you to buy.  Same goes for the hard copy zines in my shop, too.  Use the code BUSYSUMMER when you check out on Etsy, only on pre-made envelopes (of all sizes) and printed (not PDF) zines.  Sale lasts until the end of April or when I run out of envelopes.  Go on, treat yourself.  Zines make a great alternative to magazines if you'd like a quick read on your commute or taking a soak, they're advert free and they won't harass you about a beach body, whatever that is.

Happy stationery week!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

More pom pom plans

Pom poms are turning out to be big this year - if you feel like making some more before the end of May, you can take part in Fabfest! at Balfron.  Balfron is a lovely part of the world, just up the road from me in Stirlingshire.  They will also accept donations of yarn if you don't have time to make pompoms for them.

This is where they're up to so far - I'll be sending my contribution shortly!
More here: http://www.craftscotland.org/community/event_details.html?call-for-pompoms---balfron-pompom-blossom-festival&event_id=1736

and here:  http://www.pompomblossom.blogspot.co.uk/

This is where they're up to so far - I'll be sending my contribution shortly!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

My cup of tea

Recently, I was catching up with Jessica Jones' always excellent blog, How About Orange, and particularly enjoyed this post about the wealth of images to peruse, download and make good use of, at the Library of Congress.

While she had in mind a whole lot of decorative uses, I geeked out to architectural plans of the White House, before slamming my laptop closed in a fit of paranoia that I must surely to goodness be on some kind of list now.  Ahem.

In a weird fit of synchronicity, my sister regifted me (well, hey, it was my birthday) this amazing mug featuring the iconic Dean tape measure design - image courtesy of the Library of Congress, which also holds all the patents, plans, drawings and designs you would ever wish to have a look at.  It was more of a gift than expected as it allowed me to hold forth on the wonders of the Library of Congress online image library and thrill bore my family with my highbrow knowledge of great design and great libraries.  On my birthday.  Best. Present. Ever.

Is anyone else's mouth watering with the memory of having chewed the end of said tape measure at your Nanna's house of a Sunday afternoon while she measures you up for your new school cardigan?  No?  Just me then?  Okay.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Tiny houses

Miniature is quite the thing right now, isn't it?  I don't want to put the credit for evrtything that's good right now onto Lena Dunham zeitgeisty as she is, but I do think that this appetite for hand made little houses, trees and birdcages is just a leetle evocative of the photography in Tiny Furniture.

2of2 has been on my favourites list on Etsy for a little while now, in fact since before they changed their name to 2of2 - check me out, I'm so in at the ground level.  Seriously, though, I'm enchanted by their simple, clean silhouettes and rich, vibrant jewel tones. Just lovely.  I found out they have a facebook page here, too. 

Trees photo shared with permission of 2of2 - they make amazing little houses, too, but I really love these trees which are now sold, but they will make you another set if you ask!

Birdcage photo with permission of MarcellasExpress
I've also featured this birdcage by MarcellasExcess in a few treasuries lately.  and I do like these tactile, minimalist house shapes by TheBirdOnTheTree, too.

Photo with permission of BirdOnTheTree

In fact, I'm kind of obsessed with stylised depictions of buildings of all kinds, from the domestic to the industrial.

I took this photo of the Metro newspaper while I was on my phone on the train, but you can find a better one on the Debenhams website
But I think my absolute favourite interpretation of the trend is this piece, from the high street store Debenhams, by designer Ben de Lisi.  And not just because we've recently been to Blackpool Pleasure Beach - more on that to follow!

Stop press:  I just bought this little cabin with a steeple after spying it on the European front page last night.  The addiction continues.  I'm going to put it up on the high shelves in Amelia's room, next to her vintage hippo bank.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Heads up!

This is happening at John Lewis tomorrow i.e. THURSDAY 11 APRIL.  They come in a range of four different colours.  You know, so your orange fox cushion doesn't have to be lonely.  You can buy online, too.

Image of Scion cushion from JohnLewis.com website

I'm a bit of a John Lewis afficionada right now, although I've never really felt like their target market type customer.  I'm too much of a cheapskate, although if I'm going to spend money, I like to spend it on quality products and great customer service. 

I like getting a free coffee at our local Waitrose with my loyalty card, I like that they yellow sticker their lamb chops which should be £6.99 at 29p and then don't bat an eyelid when I buy 6 lots for the freezer, I like their haberdashery department and the lovely notions that Jo found there for my birthday last week (thank you!).  I like that they recognise, support and perhaps even so far as champion British design and designers.  I like the Partnership business model.  Grudgingly, I like their aspirational cleaning products which are green and effective, although this feels a bit Hyacinth.  And I really like those fox cushions and think I want to buy them all.  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Find me at Callendar House

This is where I'll be on Saturday - it is going to be fantastic!  If you are nearby, and have never visited Callendar House, try and make it along, it is a fantastic place.  There are lots and lots of gardens and lawns and interesting outdoorsy things to look at, they have Scotland's longest slide (wheeee!), a very nice tea room and best of all, an exhibition of roller-skating dogs!  The artist behind the doggy roller rink will be coming along to talk about her work on Saturday, making it an extra special day out.  I'll be bringing a select range of GirlIndustries goodies and I'm really looking forward to it.

Although it was freezing last weekend when we visited, there was still plenty indoors to do, and the Caramac cupcakes inside were worth the short dash from the car park!  Fans of living history won't be disappointed with the fully functioning and traditionally-staffed Victorian kitchen.  I am sure there'll be lots more for me to discover on my next visit, it's fast becoming a new local favourite day out.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Thank you

I made it to 300 sales on Etsy. This afternoon I'm catching up with making thank you notes that I send out to customers - here's a shot of the work in progress.

Pop into my shop on Etsy and just under my shop banner, you can click to like me on Facebook for access to an exclusive discount code running this week only. And of course, lots more frequent banter and shop updates as I post my news on the move.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Pom Poms for Post Boxes

Okay, so we're all fed up about the changes to the prices and structure for sending UK parcels which are coming into being on 2 April.  And amongst the main concerns are:

  • It's damaging to internet-based UK businesses because it will cost customers more to receive their items and maker/sellers more to obtain their goods if they shop in the UK for their supplies
  • Multi-tiered rates are confusing and difficult to gauge
  • Most people aren't aware of the price changes, especially if they don't use the Post Office or its website frequently
  • The service we receive for our money is not getting better, in fact, for me, in 2013 it has been significantly worse than I've ever known it to be

I've been wanting to do a bit of craftivism for ages, and I'm particularly enthused by the success of the #imapiece campaign, and I have a whole bookcase full of oddments of wool which have been waiting for a project just like this.  I love the iconic post boxes that we're so lucky to have in the UK and have secretly wanted to dress them up for quite a while, although a full suit of body armour is a little more than I have time for right now, and I really really really can't stress enough about how I don't want to impede Royal Mail staff in doing their everyday job and collecting the mail.  So I thought that a good way to show our appreciation of the service, would be to dress up post boxes with garlands (strictly around the top of the post box, not blocking the slot and certainly not over and around the little door that our postie friends open to get out the mail) - made of pom poms or fabric oddments - and attach a little tag with a brief note about why we're doing it.  All on the 2nd of April, the day the price changes are due to come in. 

I've set up a facebook page where you can pledge to get involved, post photos of your creations and join in the chat about how best to deal with the forthcoming changes.  I'd love to see you over there,and please share the link with your friends: http://tinyurl.com/pompompost

Feel free to grab and share my photos, or make some better ones of your own!  Oh, and the excellent blogpost by vividplease can show you how to make pom poms soooo quickly, without a single fiddly cardboard circle in sight - I made all the pom poms in that picture in 30 minutes.  I decided to string my pom poms on a length of french knitting but a single or plaited strand of thick wool or string would do just as well.  Come on, get involved!

Price rises at the Post Office... thanks, Royal Mail!

Postage stamp notecard from Girlindustries
I'm emerging from my sick bed (seems like everyone's been ill in the last couple of weeks) because I've been thinking about the announced price increases for sending post since I first heard about them at the end of February.  I'll warn you now, this is going to be a very link-heavy post because I'm still not sure I understand all the changes, so I'm just going to do a bit of an information dump here and let you find out more about how it will affect you as a customer and for my crafty colleagues, as a user of their services.

Two things are changing on 2 April - pricing cost, and pricing structure.  And when I say that pricing cost is changing, it is not going down, that's for certain.  And when I say that pricing structure is changing, it does not mean that it's getting simpler.  So I should say that posting a parcel, aka 'small packet', in the UK is getting more complicated and more expensive. 

On the whole, shopping in www.girlindustries.etsy.com will be unaffected.  My items are small and generally go by large letter rate within the UK.  Most of my customers are overseas, and at this time, prices for air mail are not going up.  However, one thing that is changing for domestic and international mail is that the level of compensation for lost, damaged and delayed packages is going to be cut by more than 50% - so where you are currently covered for loss/damage up to £41, or $60, this is cut by just over half. 

Prices for Air Mail are going up later in the year, this information came from an assistant at our large, or Crown, Post Office in Glasgow - across the road from where I work at my day job.  This information came hot on the heels of finding out on Saturday that my local Crown Post Office in Alloa is to close shortly.  You can see why I am starting to get a bit fed up.

Add to this 4 lost parcels and 2 significant delays since December and I am very brassed off with the current level of service provision from both Royal Mail and the Post Office. Two of these parcels would not be eligible for compensation under the new rules.

Here are some things you can do.  The official info from Royal Mail is here: http://www.royalmail.com/sites/default/files/RoyalMail_OurPrices_April2013.pdf
People with a UK address can sign the petition against the price increases here: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46737
You can register to have a new size guide for parcels sent to you from here: www.royalmail.com/parcel-template-order-form
What I'll be doing is thoroughly researching the new processes and details and adding a listing to my shop for upgraded shipping insurance for larger orders.  I receive a lot of orders for wedding stationery and would not want to risk sending these uninsured.  In the past, I have split orders down into smaller bundles before sending so that they are still covered should one go missing.  However, this isn't practical for a limit of $30, so I'll look at what I need to do to ensure all my customers are protected. 

Before I became ill (I have chronic sinusitis and it's flared up badly again), I started a campaign on facebook called PomPoms for Post Boxes, which proposes a day of action on 2 April to raise awareness of the price changes.  I want to make sure that when customers inevitably see a rise in cost of delivery, particularly of handmade goods, they understand that it is driven by Royal Mail and not individual seller-makers.  I'm going to try to get that up and running again over the next couple of days and see if we can get more people thinking and talking about the changes.  I'll post the link here as soon as I can!

Edited for clarity around use of Royal Mail and the Post Office - thanks to @millyandpip on Twitter for the heads up!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Because I'm going to the Post Office anyway...

More info at giveandmakeup.com
Before you send, check the guidance for what's accepted - used or opened products with wand applicators are not suitable, and don't give anything of a quality that you'd be uncomfortable to share with a friend. Otherwise it's a great way to clear the decks of all those travel sized products, gifts with purchase that you'll never use, magazine samples, or testers and potions you've tried once and can't get on with.  There are a number of organisations local to you carrying out similar drives, I just picked this one because it was easy, all the info was online, a friend shared it on facebook and I don't plan to go anywhere other than the post office between now and Sunday, so it works for me.

Women's Aid and associated organisations do fantastic work to support women and children starting new lives.  I'm enjoying all the International Women's Day and Girls' Day celebrations this month and wanted to give something back.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Free UK shipping throughout March

I'm taking part in promotion run by UK Etsy to offer free shipping to customers in March 2013.  You simply use the code FREEMARCH13 when you check out of my shop on Etsy.  There are lots of shops taking part, and I've made a few treasuries this evening to showcase their work.  You can also search on Etsy to find all the shops taking part.  And of course, many Etsy shops in the UK already offer free UK shipping to their customers, too. 


Colour of 2013!
Lovely presenty things I'd love to give

Still my favourite colour!

I'm guessing four treasuries a day throughout March is not sustainable but I'll try and pop in a few more later in the month.