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Incorporating Change Into Crafts

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1239797514_da842fa7c0_zsource: John Kannenberg

I’ve en­joyed three comp­lete­ly dif­fer­ent crafts over the last 10 years, two of which I rare­ly work on now. What has hap­pen­ed to all those years of know­ledge and exper­i­ence? Are they now worth­less?

The an­swer is a de­fin­ite NO. While it’s true I might never go back to en­joy­ing needle­point or scrap­booking, the rem­nants of my past interest show up on frequ­ent oc­ca­sions.


There may be sev­eral subtle an­swers to that ques­tion, like in­flu­ence on style (scrapbooking) or wil­ling­ness to pro­gress slow­ly on a pro­ject (needle­point). But I like a less subtle answer. More of­ten than not, when I work on graph­ic de­signs, they are usual­ly print­able for scrap­books or pat­terns for needle­point pro­ject. Those old hob­bies  haven’t dis­ap­peared from my life, they just mani­fest them­selves dif­ferent­ly now.

An­other ex­ample. When I was young­er I used to eat only marga­rine or but­ter. Later, for health reasons I switched to olive oil. Now I use a mix of olive oil and yogurt as a fat on potatoes, pasta, rice and vegetables. It’s de­li­cious, but I would never have start­ed this new prac­tice, if I didn’t al­ready have a love of creamy (from the but­ter) and olive oil (from my low-fat days).

Here are my questions to you:

How have your interests changed over the years?  And, how have you cur­rent inter­ests been im­proved by the rem­nants of your past?

To merge your new inter­ests with your old, con­sider the fol­low­ing ques­tions…

…Can you use the skills learn­ed from a pre­vious hob­by in a new en­dea­vor? A lover of sew­ing and cross stitch­ing can com­bine pre­vious­ly mas­tered skills to create hand­sewn baby out­fits with cross stitched col­lars.

…Can you use the sub­ject mat­ter from an old in­ter­est as the mo­tif for a new? A sew­ing and golf­ing enthus­iast can use golf themed fab­ric to make sofa pil­lows and awning for a porch swing.

…Can you com­bine two or more inter­ests to make a third comp­lete­ly new inter­est? A hard­core fab­ric dyer and rub­ber stamper can  exper­iment with using fab­ric dyes to stamp on cot­ton.

I’d love to hear your answers to these ques­tions. Please write a comment to let me know what new and exciting projects you came up with!

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Amigurumi Pears And Payments

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amigurumi_pears patternI found this  Amigurumi Pears Pattern over at Planet June. Planet June requests a donation of any size for the pattern, however, also offers it free to those readers who choose not to donate.

I like that idea.

Thanks to Sister Diane, over at Crafty Pod, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately as to how craft sites can be profitable, without creating a burden for their readers.

Some of the ideas I’ve heard over the last few months have been to…

1. charge for specific content

2. use donationware

3. create a premium area

4. offer a free project but send an upgraded version for pay

5. set up a micro-payment system (a few cents for each click)

Of all the ideas that have been bounced around, I think I like Planet June’s technique the best.

These pears are being offered with the clear expectation that a payment will be sent. And yet, the size of the payment is being left to the reader. In fact, even if the reader doesn’t make a payment, she still has access to the pattern.

In that way, theoretically, the designer will receive  a small reward for her efforts, without placing an undue burden on her readers.

The only question is, will some readers actually send in money for something they can get for free?

I think the answer is yes. A certain group of crafters will.

Not those crafters who just save the pattern to their hard drive, to be forgotten forever.  They won’t send a penny.

But the crafters who actually create a useful and attractive project using this pattern probably will send a payment. Every time they get a compliment on the project or copy over the pattern for a friend, they will remember that they were supposed to make a payment. Eventually, a decent size number of them will go ahead and do it.

The payments probably won’t come gushing in during the first few weeks, but over a couple of months they will start to trickle in slowly.

What do you think?

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Favorite Blogs And Sites

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Favorite Blogs And Sites

source: Leo Leung

Since that time, my choices for reading have changed a lot.  In general, my  reading  has been pruned down,  but there are a couple of additions. So, here is my new, updated list.  Hope you enjoy!


  • Crafty Pod – Why? Wonderful podcasts on a wide variety of crafty topics.
  • How About Orange – Why? Super classy blog with lots of very doable projects and great resources.
  • Little Grey Bungalow – Why? Lots of posts on retro living, vintage sewing patterns and forgotten crafting styles.


  • Unclutterer – Why? Lots of good advise and links on living a simple life in a small space. Not just a rehash of the same old advise.


  • The Simple Dollar  Why? Because he doesn’t just recycle the usual trite money saving suggestions. He actually thinks things through before writing about them.

Board Games

  • Print And Play Podcast Blog  Why? Reviews of print and play games. (Only updates a few times a month)
  • Board Game Geek – Why? Anything and everything you could possibly want to know about buying, making and playing board games.


  • Cheap Healthy Good – Why? I read this blog primarily for the constant stream of great links.
  • Jewish Food List Why? Simple, down-to-earth recipes for folks short on time.


  • ProBlogger Why? Darren is the cream of online blogging resources.


  • TED – Why? Hundreds of stimulating lectures and videos on a wide range of topics.

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Want More Money? Ask Better Questions

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How can I make more money from my craft business?

That’s what every business person asks himself/herself once in a while. While that’s a good question, it’s not the only good one.  There are a lot of other questions, that can also lead to an increase in income

Indirect questions:

How can I improve my business?

How can I give my customers an excellent experience?

How can I make my business unique?

How can I keep my customers coming back?

How can I improve my products?

How can I keep my customers interested in my product longer?

How can I improve my crafting skills?

How can I improve my photography skills?

How can I improve my packaging?

How can I get more media attention for my product?

How can I promote my product better?

What would my current customers like to know more about?

What is one thing I can do today to improve my business by 5%?

How can I serve my customers better?

Some of these questions might not seem like they will lead to an increase in income, but they will.

A better product leads to word of mouth, media shout outs, repeat business; all things that lead to interested eyes on your product. More eyes=more chances that your craft will be purchased.

Direct questions:

What unfulfilled needs do my customers have?

How can I make more money from the customers  I already have?

How can I create better selling products?

What classes, services, add ons might interest my customers?

What products are hard for my customers to locate?

What kind of products would improve my customers lives?

What kind of information would improve my customers lives?

What kind of services would improve my customers lives?

What kind of products do my customers already buy?

What kind of problems to my  customers have? What worries them?

How do my customers  relax, play, make money?

As you may have noticed, many of these questions are based around what you can do to improve the lives of your customers. 

We are not just being altruistic. Whether we realize or not, the real basis behind all financial transactions is the customers belief that the product will make him happier. No one makes a purchase unless he or she believes it will improve her life (at least for a few minutes).  By understanding this, we can use this mindset to become more in touch with what our customers are most likely to spend money on.

Give these questions a try. They might revolutionize the direction your money making efforts take.

source: oberazzi

Read More: Craft  Business or Home

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Make It Your Own

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Make it your own

Several years ago, while on vac­at­ion, my teen­age daugh­ter pur­ch­ased a needle­point kit for me. I wasn’t crazy about it. The col­ors were too sub­tle, the des­ign too chunky and the dir­ec­tions called for the kit to be worked in long stitch, which I dis­like. How­ever, because it was a gift from my daugh­ter, I knew it would be comp­leted.

Instead of throw­ing the kit out, I redesigned it. The light yel­low and pink  were exchanged for a rich gold and bur­gandy, the blocky design was ad­justed in cer­tain areas, and the stitch changed from long to single. Sud­den­ly, the needle­point kit, was lovely! And, just as im­port­ant, the pre­packaged can­vas was now a unique, one of a kind design.

This exper­ience taught me an impor­tant les­son: kits and proj­ects designed by other folks need only be start­ing points. The proj­ects can eas­ily be changed a bit here or there with­out sac­rif­ic­ing the fin­ished prod­uct. Now, I almost always make changes to pre­pack­aged craft kits and proj­ects.

Here are a couple of tips for making your next project more deeply reflective of your own taste…

…Start with the colors. If you dislike a color of fabric, yarn or paper that is supposed to be used for a project, feel free to hit the craft store for something more to your taste.

…Work with the small things. You might not feel comfortable changing the sleeve pattern on a  blouse, but you might feel fine about adding or subtracting a pocket.

…Make small changes to the technique. Add a fancy stitch to your cross-stitch or use a special piping tip for your cake decorating. Just be aware that these changes may require the purchase of additional supplies.

…Embellish, embellish, embellish. Feel free to fold an origami flower to use with your scrapbooking kit or add a unique center square to your quilting pattern.

Warning: Avoid making really big changes unless you know the technique well. For instance, don’t make any structural changes to a knitted sweater unless you really understand how the changes will effect the finished garment.

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The Importance Of Being Flexible

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The-Importance-Of-Being-Flexible-214x300As I’ve men­tioned in prev­ious posts, I’m a prac­ti­cal craft­er. I don’t us­ual­ly make any­thing un­less it’s need­ed. And, I try to never buy some­thing which can be made.

Which means, when I de­cid­ed I need more toys for my tod­dler neph­ews, I was de­ter­mined to make them my­self.

My first thought was make a Qui­et Book for the boys. I had vis­ions of color­ful felt pup­pets, but­ton and zip­per pag­es and wonder­ful pipe­cleaner weav­ing ac­tiv­ities.

With these ideas in mind I head­ed off to the craft store. When I got there, I found that there were no in­div­idual rec­tan­gles of felt on the shelves. There were also no but­tons and zip­pers.

How­ever, I did see some won­der­ful­ly glit­tery pipe­clean­ers and spark­ly foam sheets. Tacky, but per­fect for lit­tle boys.

I real­ized im­med­iat­ely that I was go­ing to need a change of plans.


That’s where the in­ter­net came in. As soon as I re­turned from the store I did a search for home­made tod­dler toys + foam and an­other search for home­made tod­dler toys + pipe clean­ers.  After a bit of pok­ing around I came up with two great ideas.

The first was for a foam sew­ing toy. It’s made by cut­ting foam into aqua­tic shapes and punch­ing holes around the ed­ges.

The sec­ond was for a sim­ple jar toy with holes in the lid. Tod­dlers can shove pipe clean­ers through the holes.

I made up both toys with­in an hour and still had sup­plies left for anoth­er day’s proj­ects.


This ex­per­ience has taught me a val­uable les­son.

When I craft I usu­ally fol­low a very sim­ple sys­tem. I make a plan, buy or find the sup­plies, and con­struct the proj­ect.  I do what­ever I need to do to make the plan work.

This time I learned that flex­ibil­ity may be just as use­ful as dili­gence. I had suc­cess with the toy making ven­ture be­cause I was wil­ling to let my ori­gi­nal plan go, and go with the path that opened to me.

My hus­band, who is very spir­it­ual, says this is a les­son for life. I agree.

source: Go Interactive Wellness

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Is Crafting A Frugal Hobby?

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The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn, is my personal finance bible. So, when Amy advised switching to frugal hobbies, she got me thinking. Is crafting a frugal hobby?

The answer is a loud and resounding…maybe.

Here’s why –

– An everyday sweater, made from yard sale wool, is thrifty. A cashmere sweater, that was never finished, is not.

– Homemade orange peel candies are thrifty. Homemade chocolate truffles are not.

– Quilts made from fabric found in your scrap bag are thrifty. Quilts made from fabric bought at an upscale specialty store are not.

– Scrapbooking with acid-free paper and a lot of imagination, is thrifty. Scrapbooking with acid-free paper and store-bought embellishment kits is not.

– Creating mosaics from chipped Salvation Army dishes is thrifty. Creating mosaics from glass tiles purchased at the craft store is not.

Here are a couple of tips to ensure that your next craft project is thrifty…

Use free materials whenever possible. Out­grown cloth­ing, dis­card­ed lin­ens, or don­at­ions from friends can be made into won­der­ful fin­ished proj­ects.

Never buy full price. If you must pay for craft materials, try hard to save money. Check out your local thrift shop and yard sales. Shop ebay and Craig’s list. Comparison shop at online craft shops.

Make sure your crafts have a purpose. Before you start a new project decide what you will do with the finished product.  Will it be a holiday gift? A knick knack for your living room? Will it actually be used?

Don’t take on more than you can chew. Unfinished projects are a waste of money. Be sure, before starting a new needlepoint, outfit or craft kit, that you actually have the time and skill to complete it.

In general, like most of life, crafting is what you make it. You can make the kind of decisions that make crafting an expensive and frustrating activity. Or, you can make choices that make crafting economical and enjoyable. You decide.

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