The First Impression?

Your mother probably told you how import first impressions are. Mine sure did. And that is why I am a neurotic mess when I have to meet somebody new. Oh well, that is another story all together.

As it stands the idea of first impressions for me is really important.

I am now in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell some handmade knit items and from what I have read, repeat buyers are crucial on the platform. And that means that you need to:

  1. Make a good product
  2. Present it well
  3. Make a good impression when they receive it

I see it as three steps. As you can see good impressions are important at not one place, but two.

First when I put it on the site I will need to have nice looking photos of it. This is a problem for me because I do not really know how to take a nice photo. My selfies are abysmal and they are my strong point when it comes to photography.

That means that I will need to work on that before I take my shop live.

The second, and this is in my opinion the most important impression, is when they actually unbox it. This is the moment that they will either be happy that they picked one of my pieces or have second thoughts.

For this point I want to make a couple of pieces of supplementary material that accompany the garments.

This will be something like care instructions, possibly a coupon code for my website, and additional piece of contact information. One thing that I have noticed is that it is often hard to contact a person once they have sent you the item.

There have been instances where I wanted to reach out to them and thank them for the great service but didn't have an option too.

Not that I am getting ahead of myself.

One step at a time I guess.

Ready. Set. Knit!

So I am just about ready, at least I feel like I am.

As you all know I have been knitting for years now and have had some success selling some of the items that I have knitted but I have never really tried to make it into anything more than what it, at heart, is.

A hobby.

Hobbies are all good and fine, but they get risky when you start having aspirations to make them into a career. I have been told that this is the easiest way to get tired of, what had been, a pleasant way to spend your time. That is something to certainly consider but I really only feel that that is true for those who might have picked up the hobby with this as their original intent.

For people like me that come at it from the other direction it is less of a risk.

Here the only thing that I may give us is the idea of making my hobby into a business.

When I started to look into this more I realized that there was a lot to consider. And I was sort of put off it all. Now, for the most part, things are in place and I've seen enough to get started. At least the basics have been covered and what has yet to be discovered/encountered isn't that important.

That isn't me being super confident. Rather it is a feeling of covering all of the basics before getting started. And, sure, basics are just that, the baby steps that lead to success.

As they say: "We must learn to walk before we can run." Sidenote: When I googled the idiom I was expecting to see somebody famous credited with saying it. Instead they listed E.L. James as saying it. Hum, pretty sure that it is older than that.

So, what would walking look like in my case?

Well, I felt like it would only be fitting to set a budget. I am willing to invest this much in the business and not much more. This comes in the form of:

  1. Time – I am willing to put a realistic amount of time the business, yet, at the same time it has to have a realistic cut off point. I know some women that decided to start a shop on Etsy and are "still cracking away at it" years later. This isn't very encouraging, nor is is sensible.
  2. Money – If it is important that I set a limit to how much time I am willing to invest into the business that same is doubly true for the financial aspect of the business.
    • Somebody once that I know told me that print shops love to see people come in that are just starting out. Most businesses try to do everything right. And that means having lots of prints made; regardless of how many they need.I think that is why so many shops have a surplus of fliers, business or care cards.

One aspect of starting a shop that I find important is adding the finishing touch.

It both needs to be professional and at the same time it needs to feel like it is personal. I have always appreciate the cards that certain sellers include in the package. They are no more than business cards with a tasteful and cleaver design and a specific purpose that falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Coupon
  2. Care
  3. Contact

Right now I want to include two. And I found a site which offers a lot of different styles. I even recognized one of the card designs I've received from an Etsy seller in the past. So from that I can say using straight business cards is certainly an option. And judging by the quality of the print and paper I will likely also go with them, as they are also cheaper. The coupon (which doubles as a contact) and care card.

I haven't made a final decision on the card design. Though I am certain that I will use business cards for the inserts. My main concern for selecting the right set is that they should compliment each other.

When it comes to cards, no matter if it is a business card or a any other piece of promotional material the important part is in clearly stating the purpose. When you get a care card with an order off of Etsy you want the recipient to immediately understand what it is. Don't hide the meaning behind a fancy design that, while it may look nice, ends up in the garbage because they do not know what it is.

What I have in mind for the design is something that clearly shows its intention and then, once they have acknowledged it adds the extra touch.

Is that too much to ask?

Maybe.

But I have a big selection to choose from.

Down and Out

Alright, not really out. But I was informed by one of my loyal readers (Thanks mom! Seriously what would I do without you. ) that my site was down. How can this be you ask? How can something so radical s Radical Mirrors be down? Well, it was a mess up by my Registrar. They must have messed something up. Uhm, sure. Though I think it might have been my mistake… cough.

As you can see, reading this means that the site is now back online and spiffy as ever!

YAY!!

Thinking About Business

The idea of starting a shop on Etsy, etc. has been going through my mind for a while now. And while the prospect seemed daunting. No, wait. It still feels daunting. I am getting more comfortable with it.

The different sources that I have been using to read up on it. Mainly books that I have checked out from the library were helpful. Though they also left me wanting more information. As it stands I do not have the confidence to just jump right in. But that might be what I do. To avoid analogies with learning to swim. It might be the best way o get a feel for the way people do business on the site.

When I was in college one of my roommates was making trinkets and selling them first on ebay and then on in the early days, Etsy.

It worked for her well enough. She always had some money for the weekends – and she paid for a girl's weekend out when we graduated. Which trilled us.

One thing that I have noticed when I buy something from Etsy you often get a business card, presented as a coupon card or care card specific for the product and seller. It is a nice touch that gives it a professional look. Things like, while I can appreciate, I never would have come to the idea myself. Of course I am going to do it. And while it might not be my first step those little cards are actually pretty cheap to have them printed.

I saw that I could order about a hundred cards for less than $20 which makes them five cents a piece. For that and the visual appeal that the finishing touch adds it doesn't make any sense to skip them.

The problem I have with them is either have them professionally designed. This presents a problem in that it makes the whole endeavor more expensive. Or I can design them myself and have them printed. Both have their ups and downs. Professional designs will problem look a lot better. But the added expense might not be worth it.

If I design them myself I can save on the overall cost, the time expenditure, yet I am not sure if I can achieve the same quality with my limited design skills.

In the end I will probably go with the second option. The main reason is that if I need to make changes I won't have to rely on the original designer to make them and I will have the source files to work with.

As you can see there is a lot to consider and I have a hard time making a commitment.

A Fun Shabby Chic Project

When people ask me what they need when they start knitting I say arthritis free hands. But in truth there isn’t a lot that you need to start knitting.

One of the easiest ones can be accomplished by beginners of all ages and it is pretty popular right now.

A Shabby Chic Scarf

If you want to start a small project, or if you want to teach a child how to knit I would highly suggest starting with a simple finger knit project. Holding needles for hours can be stressful, learning to hold them properly is stressful for adults, though I have found that this is less of a problem for children.

Still, if starting small is what you are interested in and this is something that I advocate you can always knit a small project with just your fingers.

Finger knitting, to me, feels like something natural. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that some ancient ancestor was sitting around a fire and knitting with finger alone. They were probably a grandmother, and it was probably a sweater.

Anyway, back to the project at hand.

There aren’t a lot of projects that you can knit like this but when you are working with children the amount of options is less important as when you try and teach an adult. Trust me if you have never held a needle in your hands before you won’t be whipping up cardigans, no matter how motivated you are.. The easier the better and the pattern is easy to get a grip on. Here is a version with pictures if you are having trouble visualizing the technique.

Step 1.

You are going to need to slide the end of a ball of yarn between your thumb and index finger (this will allow you to control the ball while you knit). By pinching it between your fingers you can control the yarn as you knit.

Now you will need to loop the yarn around your pinkie and then begin to weave it through your fingers.

Step 2.

When you have looped the yarn over and under on your fingers you will need to loop the yarn around your index finger turning back to your pinkie.

Step 3.

You should now have a full loop around your four fingers.

Step 4.

This produces a pattern that you can now begin to weave together. Slip the bottom row so that it goes over the one above it. Think about it like pulling one loop over the next loop. You will start at the pinkie and work your way up. Once you have the hang of it, you may need to untangle the yarn and start again, you can repeat the steps 2-4 until you reach the length that want the item to be. If you are making a bracelet you will not need that much and a couple of repetitions will be enough, for bigger items like a scarf you can expect to go through the process a number of times. Once you are finished you can tie the tip off and you’re all set.

Kitty PSA

My cat is inconsistent about recognizing her need to eat and drink. If you are a cat owner then you will know how important this can be.

My veterinarian even stated that she suspected that it could be linked to feline dementia.

She (my cat I mean) is about seventeen now.

I say that because when we got her from the shelter she was estimated at around 11 years old. Now in people years she is closer to a hundred. This isn’t limited to older cats though, since cats would get their nourishment from their prey they can often forget to take additional nourishment in other forms. Mostly through drinking.

That means if you are feeding your elderly cat a diet of dry food you could be putting her at risk for dehydration.

Old cats need wet food because they tend to not drink enough water. This is in part because they have a decreased appetite & cognitive function.

If you have the feeling that you cat isn’t drinking enough you can monitor their intake. Measure how much is left in the bowl, or how much you add to their fountain in the morning. This, along with ensuring that they are eating a diet high in wet food, or exclusively wet food is important to maintain their health.

Start Small, Learn The Ropes (Or Yarn)

I’ve been a recreational knitter for many years and never really had any interest in offering my items for sell. I usually give them away since the making and the giving are the rewarding part for me. I use it as a hobby, to relax when I come home from work, and that is all I expect from it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to “limit” yourself but to be honest if you are going to do it professionally you will see that it takes time to knit and you have to ask how much is your time worth.

People often ask me for suggestions or help on picking out hooks. They will tell me they are thinking about brand X though it is twice as expensive as band Y. When I hear this I will say something like “why don’t you just pick up a cost-effective set with everything you need?” The thing about cost-effective sets are that you do not need to continue buying each hook separately. That gets expensive quickly!

If you haven’t gotten the hang of it, know what you want/need, or don’t even know if you plan to continue, buying all of the expensive equipment upfront can be a waste.

When I first got started I was using whatever I had around the house for yarn markers. And while it was a nightmare trying to cut yarn with my rickety old scissors that were as dull as they were sticky I learned something important. I like knitting.

At that point I upgraded.

While the hair clips and other “counters” I was using didn’t work out like I wanted (I pulled out a lot of rows because I lost count). I was thrilled by the whole experience. For Christmas my mother bought me a kit which make things so much better. In fact it was more than I could have ever hoped for, more than I ever imagined!

I started a new project after I received my kit.

It has scissors, an assortment of needles, and a measuring tape which was mind blowing at the time.

Since then it has been replaced a number of times, at least piece by piece, but there is one thing that I learned. I loved to knit, had I blown my money on a bunch of equipment I think that I would have been more than disappointed. Especially since I know how hard it can be to learn on aluminum needles.

Stay Organized

If you are going to seriously start knitting then you will want to make sure that you stay organized. While this is a relatively clean and clutter free hobby, if you don’t keep your supplies in order you will quickly end up with balls of yarn, tangled balls of yarn.

Let me say first that I love to knit. I have been knitting and crocheting since high school. And I have learned the hard way that not keeping your items in order is only good for a head ache. That said, as you can imagine I have gone through more than a couple bags but few of them were designed to meet my needs. I like bags that stand up on their own, can be easily taken along, don’t require a lot of yarn organization and yet keep the yarn protected.

It is also a plus if the bag has storage spaces within or on the bag for my large assortment of needles.

My current bag even has a zipper pocket on the front which I like to store my yarn needles in! Another fact that I absolutely love, is when the bags have both a hand strap and shoulder strap, together in the same design.

Also when you choose your first bag make sure you don’t opt for the smallest one. You will quickly learn that the bag is better when it is large enough to fit several skeins of yarn into it. The reason is because after you get a bit better you will usually work on projects that are of several colors.

That is pretty much what I look for when I feel it is time for a new bag. I would name a couple of brands, but my newest bag is about ten years old and I really haven’t looked at new models since then. The reason is because it offers everything I need, looks good, and had held up to various wear and tear. Including a camping trip in the Catskills.

When you find a good bag that meets your needs you’ll know what I mean.

The Wooden Beginner

When you start knitting you are a little stiff, things don’t flow right. And you will inevitably learn that the darn yarn just doesn’t stay on the needle. Well. Thankfully there are a few tricks that you can employ.

If you tried to learn to knit with the old aluminum needles you will know what I mean.

The yarn keeps falling off the needles. If you have watched the videos on youtube you may have noticed that a lot of people use bamboo needles. You could opt for something like Clover size 8 needles and some yarn and got started.

If you have tried in the past to learn to knit you will notice how much of a difference bamboo makes. I now knit and purl away. Perhaps you might want to start with an American/English/throwing knitting style, this is much easier for beginners. Since you will be starting with the bamboo needles they will grip the yarn snugly enough so that you don’t drop stitches. The yarn doesn’t slide sloppily all over the place either. Don’t worry about the fit, there is enough slack to knit comfortably and easily.

Since the Clover 8s are only 9 inches long, they are much more ergonomic experience and put less strain on the hands and wrists than the longer needles do.

Bottom line: if I can knit it might just be because you never had the right needle. I have known people that tried multiple times to knit but it wasn’t until they switched their needles that caused you a few head aches. Both Brittany and Clover needles are good starters for the beginning knitter.

Knitho is Online

I am finally online, sort of. This is going to take me a little bit to get used to, sort of like knitting my first scarf. It was like a million feet long, took forever, and looked terrible. Plus I really wasn’t the scarf sort of girl, which made the entire undertaking sort of senseless. Hopefully this will go a little better.