Tag Archives: Craft

To Market, to Market. Part 3 – 10 things to remember to take with you

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, when I was preparing to attend my first market (after a long break) but decided to wait until the market was over before completing it, so that I could share my experiences along with a check list.  What I have put together is a general list of things to take with you,  that you can use as a guide for your own market preparation.   And hopefully you will learn from my mistakes!

I can report that I really enjoyed the market.  I sold enough to make it financially worthwhile, got to test out my displays, my packing and my products, and I was able to talk to customers.  I even sold one of the tea cosies that my mum knitted (as well as a few of my own!)  Overall it was a great start on my journey back to markets.   I made a few mistakes but recovered from them, and learnt a lot at the same time.

  1. Shelter

Is your market indoors or outdoors?    If it is outdoors are you going to have shelter provided or will you need your own.  In my case I have a 3m x 3m portable gazebo that I can erect for outside markets, so that is on my checklist.   If you are attending an indoor market it pays to check whether you are allowed to set up gazebos inside as many markets will not allow it.

If you are outside remember to have something to secure your gazebo or marquee in case of strong winds.  (Yes – something I forgot to take with me).   You can buy weights for the legs or make them yourself – just remember them and remember to put them in place because it would be quite disastrous to have your shelter fly across the market ground if the wind picks up!

It also pays to think about whether you need walls for your structure.   I had two walls with me, but as I ended up on a corner site I only used one, as a backdrop.

My set up at an outdoor market with the back wall up.

2. Display furniture

How are you displaying your products? I will be taking a table, some shelves, a screen and some boxes that provide different heights for displays.   Doing a run through at home is always good so that you know how things will look on the day.  Make a list of all your props so that you can check them off in your packing.   Then be prepared for changes.   My stall was moved to a corner position on the night, so it would have been useful to have a second table – something I will definitely be taking next time.    I am also thinking about floor covering – it makes a difference!

The shelves worked well to display the tea cosies but I wasn’t happy with the rest of my display – tweaking is required!

3.  Cloths and props

A table cloth that reaches the ground is an important part of a good market set up. Apart from making your table look good it also gives you an excellent storage spot that is out of sight. I find it handy for hiding the storage boxes that my products are carried in so they are at hand for packing up at the end of the market.

If you are using props for your display these need to be on your list. Most of my props are teapots for displaying my tea cosies so I need to remember these otherwise there will be some floppy crocheted piles on my shelves!

It is a bonus when your props double as storage

4. Lighting

Lighting is important whether you are at an indoor or outdoor event.  Events indoors can sometimes be gloomy so having some lighting to brighten your display is a great way of attracting customers.   Outdoor events that go into the evening will definitely benefit from lighting, and even daytime outdoor events can be gloomy so some lighting to brighten your space will help.

The range of possibilities for lighting is wide.  If you don’t have access to power during your market then the range of solar lighting is large and affordable these days.  I have some rice-paper-style globes from Ikea that are solar powered that cost about $15 and add light in a nice way.  Another option is battery powered lights – rechargable or not.   I have a rechargable flourescent light that gives great lighting (from the auto section at a hardware shop) and fairy lights from Big W that run on two AA batteries.  All of these provide flexible lighting solutions……if you remember to pack them.  Ahem.   If the bright light is still plugged into it’s charger on the bench at home it isn’t much use when night falls…..

If you do remember to take your lights, make sure you know how you are going to attach them to your display and pack cable ties, bluetack, hooks etc, depending on your needs.

5. Signage

I have a banner with a stand lets people know who I am and what I am selling.  One of the best responses I had to my banner was from a man who said ‘I know that name, ‘a little bird made me’.   Let me think – your mother is Elizabeth, and you are Theresa and you live out in Bywong.’   It turns out he is the local courier who delivers my parcels – that my mother always signs for.

6. Bags and packaging

When people buy your products it pays to be able to package them so that they will travel home from the market safely.   Paper bags with handles suit most items, but have a think about the size of your products and make sure you have bags that suit those items best.  I have carry bags that will accommodate cups and saucers, and tea cosies but a pair of earring would be lost in them, so I will have smaller bags for those small items.    If you have a fragile product it is good to be able to wrap it in tissue paper or bubble wrap to cushion it on it’s trip home.   Having your packaging branded is good to do before hand too – in my case I use a stamp with my logo to mark the bags as being from my business.

7.  Admin Box.

This is the box that holds all the things that you will need for each market, so that you don’t have to find and pack them everytime.  The admin box is where you put:

     (a)  Business cards or fliers

People like to take a card so that they can look you up when they next want a product like yours, so having a pile of cards or fliers is an easy way to ensure return custom.   They also provide a great discussion point with customers who are asking whether you sell on line etc.

     (b) Float

You need to be ready to give change to the first customer who comes along!   And it helps if you remember the KEY to your cash box and don’t leave it sitting on the bench at home, 20 kms away.   Ahem.   Luckily my parents willingly drove home, found the key and returned it to me.  After all of that I didn’t have to make change for any customer – they all had the right money or used my card facilities!

    (c) Credit card facility

Again – if you have the facility for people to pay by card they are more likely to purchase from you.  Make sure you have any connecting hardware, that you have tested it and that you know how to operate it.   If your eftpos facility gives paper receipts carry a spare roll.

   (d) Notebook and pen

For taking orders, fo writing reminders to yourself about what has worked and what hasn’t, for writing out notes for customers, or taking down phone numbers, this is important to have.

    (e) Repair kit

Accidents happen, both to your products and to your display.   Having a small kit with sticky tape and duct tape, a screwdriver, scissors, pins, and whatever else you might need for your set up is sensible.

    (f) Chargers

Because there is nothing worse than running out of battery on your phone, your eftpos facility, your lights etc.   Having the right charger cords and plugs, plus a power bank if there is no power provided, takes a lot of stress out of managing your stall.

8. Price tags

The best way to ensure sales is to have the prices for your products clearly marked.  If people have to interrupt you serving another customer to ask how much something is they will often walk away instead of asking. If you can’t put a price on each item, make sure that you have clear and easily visible signs that announce the prices.   Ikea picture frames are handy for making your signs look professional without breaking the bank.

9. Drink bottle and a snack

Keeping hydrated helps you to maintain your energy levels while you serve customers. A low mess snack to help keep your energy levels up is important. High protein snacks like nuts are a good option here.

10. Product!

No point going to a market if you have nothing to sell!    Make a list of your products and then tick them off as you pack them, so that nothing is missed out and left behind,   Then check that you have packed all your boxes in the car so that you haven’t left one behind either (not my mistake but a very common one for other people I know!)

Having a box for each product category helps keep track of what you are packing

 

If you have other ideas that you think should be added to the list do let me know!

Being business like

A few weeks ago a recent acquaintance asked me if my ‘making ‘ was a business or a hobby. I have been pondering this ever since. A couple of years ago the answer was straightforward- business. I had a plan, I made enough profit that I had to pay tax and there was regular money making activity going on.

Then I had a break for over a year. Little income, no regular activity and no plan. Until 3 months ago when something clicked and I started making again. At first it was just making for making’s sake but it has grown again and while I don’t yet have a fully laid out business plan I do have some vague mental ideas about where I am going! Some of it is instinctual from my earlier time in business and some of it is aspirational because I continue to daydream that my life will magically change to create space for me to have time to be successful. A lot of it is held back by my pessimism/reality checks that my plans are so often undone by family life and my resultant mental health. So I ask myself, like a mantra, ‘hobby or business , hobby or business?’

Where does the line cross from one to another? For me I think it comes with making decisions about ‘making’ in a profitable, repeatable way. My crazy crocheted tea cosies where I create a whole new pattern for each piece? Hobby. I don’t recover the cost of time spent in making each piece if I apply a business model. But do I love making them? Yes!!!! Reusable tea bags? Business. Now that testing has finished I have a repeatable process for making, marketing and selling them.

All the things in between? Some land on the side of hobby, some cross the line to business. What to do with all of that? At this stage my approach is that it is all business. The unique, one of a kind, time intensive creations are attention getters that have a marketing function. The repeatable patterns that can be made in batches cover the costs of making the one off pieces. It all works together to fund materials, marketing and growth.

I also think that for me, thinking of what I am doing as a business helps to add a piece of self esteem back into a life where I previously self-identified as successful through my career achievements – a business is something that is about me, something that other people admire, something I can succeed at. (Because let’s face it, any judgement on my success as a parent and carer won’t really be known until they are grown and leading happy healthy lives!!)

The next hurdle is a mental one. I have products that are ready to wholesale so I can, in theory, start marketing them to retailers to stock. Gulp. But I haven’t. It remains on my ‘to do’ list. Why? Because the last few years have been so much like a roller coaster ride I have an ingrained fear that I won’t be able to keep any commitments that I make. Which begs the next question – why am I worried about letting others down? Do they really have high expectations of me or am I just setting my own bar too high and then self sabotaging so that I don’t reach it? Hmmmm…. self-analysis via writing this post indicates that I am, as usual, my own worst enemy!!

To shift myself fully into that business mindset it is probably time to write the plan down, instead of having vague aspirational thoughts and wandering around making stuff. Time to be a grown up, do the analysis and make a clear decision on business vs hobby. Wish me luck!

(In the background I have been playing with fabric combinations to make fabric insulated tea cosies- getting back to my happy place combining colours and patterns!! I have also been perfecting the cactus teacosy pattern!)

If you also ponder the line between hobby and business I would love to hear your thoughts !

Making stuff – again

Thank you to all who reached out to share and support when I was having a tough time last week.  The great news is that things have continued to improve since then, so much so that I had one morning this week when all three children were at school!   Of course I had left my crochet bag at home, so wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself for a while!

I have managed to get into the sewing room, and my other favourite making place, my armchair, and produce a few new things this week.   After a special request I made another pineapple tea cosy – tweaking the pattern as I went, and am very happy with the results.

Then I decided to play with the idea of a cactus tea cosy and love this result!

Some time in the sewing room meant some dome style tea cosies and a wrap around cosy!  My fabric stash is being re-discovered and I am loving it!!

A few more tiny cacti have grown in tiny teacups and I made some trivets with recycled t-shirt yarn.   You might say that it has been a productive week!!

In the midst of all of this Spring has sprung (finally) so that might explain the additional energy I have had – all that vitamin D soaking in!    My ‘to-do’ list is long at the moment – cleaning the house, finally painting a couple of rooms, getting some more sewing done, listing things in my shop……  so let’s hope that the sun stays out for a few more days!

I hope that you have had a creative and inspiring week.

Free Crochet One Cup Teapot Tea Cosy Pattern

Well, I have done it – completed my order for a set of tea cosies for the beautiful cafe Le Bon Melange.   In the process I think I have perfected my pattern for making the tea cosies, so decided it was time to share it here. This is the first time that I have published a crochet pattern, so please be gentle with me – and let me know if you find any errors!!   If you do make a cosy from this pattern I would love to see the end result!

The two sizes of tea cosy plus a coffee press cosy too!

 

This pattern is for a flat topped one cup tea pot, but I have fitted it to a more rounded one cup pot and it worked just as well. To adjust it to a larger two cup pot the instructions for the top remain the same, it is just the number of rows for the body that change.  Once you have the basic body you can then decorate it with whatever you like!  Flowers, hearts, frogs – the sky is the limit!

The red pot is the one cup pot and the aqua is the two cup pot. How well do those colours match the wool?!

 

Pattern

I used a 4mm crochet hook and 8 ply wool to make this pattern.If you use thicker wool the pattern will still work – it will just end up slightly bigger.

Key

ch chain

ss slipstich

dc double crochet

To start chain 4 and joined with ss

Row 1 Ch 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to join to top of the first chain 3 (creating 12 stiches in round)

Row 2 Ch 3, 2 dc in each stitch of round 1, with last single dc in base of initial chain 3 stitch, ss to join

Row 3 Ch 3, *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeat 11 more times, with last dc in base of first ch 3, ss to join

Row 4 Ch 1, ss in next stitch, ss in next stitch, 3 ch and skip stitch, then 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeated 10 times and finish with single dc in last two stitches of round.   (This is the top of the cosy)

Row 5 Ch 3, turn and 1 dc in each of next 21 stitches (22 in total)

Row 6  – 8 repeat round 5 then finish.

Return to round 5 and attach wool three stitches from the first half of round five and then repeat round 5 – 8 in order to create the second half of the cosy.  Do not finish off at the end of row 8 but continue on.

Row 9 ch 3 dc in each stitch until reaching the end of the row then ch 3 and dc in each stitch of other half of cosy.  This creates the join under the spout.

Row 10 – 11, ch 3 dc in each stitch of row, including the joining 3 ch from row 9.

Row 12 3 ch, ss to other side of cosy, then 3 ch, turn and dc in second chain from ss, dc in each stitch until reach the beginning of the row.  This joins the cosy under the handle.

Row 13 – optional – ch 1, skip first stitch then ss in each stitch of row 12 and finish with ss into fist ch.

To make this pattern fit a larger 2 cup pot the pattern is the same until row 8 when you should stitch another row before creating the join under the spout in row 10 rather than row 9.  Then add in rows so that the final row with the join under the handle is row 15.    You can adapt the basic pattern to fit larger pots by adjusting the size of the top and then the length of the body.

I did add a crown to one of the small cosies – I just couldn’t help myself! Here the pattern is shown on a different shaped one cup pot – it is fairly versatile.

The hearts on these cosies were made using the pattern found on Salt of the Spirit blog and the tiny crown was made using the pattern found on Kim Lapsley’s blog.

If you would like to see some ideas of crochet appliques or flowers then check out my pinterest board – I have collected a lot!

 

Let me know how you go making your own cosy!

A lot can happen in a week!

Since I last wrote all sorts of things have happened here in the nest, both with my business but also on the farm. Let’s get the colourful exciting pictures out of the way first! I have been busy playing with both fabric and wool, and trying out new things.    I made my first large batch of tea bags and listed them on my Etsy shop (the link is at the top of the page).

 

I also played with bright colours and bobble stitches to make a tea cosy for a custom order and then, because I like it so much, made another for the Etsy shop!

  

I also played with some new applique ideas and made cup cosies. This one uses a pattern by Flo and Dot on Ravelry called Flo’s campervan keyring and bunting for the applique.

On Monday I received a commission to make a series of tea cosies for a cafe!   I will reveal all when they are complete, but I have had fun developing a repeatable pattern which I will publish once I have ironed out all the bugs!    This is a picture during an early stage of development!

I have spent quite a bit of time at appointments and in waiting rooms this week so having my portable crochet habit with me has been useful. At the hairdressers on Wednesday I finished this water lily that I had been making using a pattern from Make my day creative.

On Thursday and again today I made lots of little hearts,

and kept perfecting that pattern!

On the home front much more has been happening.   Last Saturday we met and decided to trial (before formally adopting) a new dog.  It is exactly one year since our beautiful boy Milo contracted pancreatitis, and then died three months later.    My boy has been patiently waiting for another dog of his own but I was keen to make sure it was the right dog, and that we were ready. Shadow seems to fit the bill.  He is a Belgian Shepherd who was rescued after living rough in the bush on the outskirts of Canberra. Searches have not been able to locate his owners, so a rescue group set out to find him a new home.   He has the most beautiful nature and is completely dedicated to my son.  The downside is that he is not fully toilet trained at the moment, but that is possibly due to stress, as he is improving daily. With a week to go in the trial I think it will be hard to say goodbye to him and expect that he will become a permanent part of the family!

   

Saturday brought us other excitement with the discovery by the artist in residence of an injured kangaroo down near our chook run.  We cared for him during the day until the Wildcare rescuers could come and take him for treatment. A photo sent through last night shows him doing well, so we are all very happy that Roger (as the kids named him) is doing well!  His friends seem a bit suspicious of us though and seem to be keeping an eye on us all!

  

The other thing I can show you in photos is my new haircut.  It has been a while since I had it done  – a combination of finances, time and more time seemed to keep delaying me, which meant that by the time I got to the hairdresser she had a lot of hair to work with!   I love the end result!   I had to take a selfie to share the new look with you!

So there you have it – a week in review!  Now to get the fire going because it is cold today, and then to keep working on that pattern!   A cup of tea might be in order first though!

I hope that you have had a great week wherever you are!

 

The return of Friday Finds – a list of 7 free patterns for crocheted baskets

With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too.   This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts.  I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with.   I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room!  I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning!   These baskets are really versatile!


I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning!   These baskets are really versatile!

 

Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:

Ombre Basket by Crochet in Colour

82-62-63-64-baskets by Fil Katia on Ravelry

How to make crochet fabric bakets and make your own fabric yarn

Tutorial for beginners crochet make a fabric basket by the Red Thread

Chunky Crochet Basket Pattern from Crochet in Colour

Final product image

Crochet a gorgeous set of rainbow nesting baskets

Mega Bulky Crochet Baskets

Mega Bulky Crochet Baskets by All Free Crochet

crochet basket pattern by poppyandbliss.com

Crochet Basket by Poppy and Bliss

I hope that you find something in the list to inspire you to make your own basket!

New beginnings – sort of

A few weeks ago I found myself lying in bed thinking about this website and wondering whether I should just delete it and accept that I wasn’t going to be in business anymore.  It was a hard conversation to have with myself, but I couldn’t see anyway to move forward.   Fast forward to this week and I have just reopened my Etsy shop (you can get there by clicking the link at the top of the page) for the first time in over two and a half years.    Wow!

What happened to change things?  I had a couple of lightbulb moments.    I just couldn’t get excited about making any of the things I used to make, wasn’t inspired to design anything from those lines, and had pretty much abandoned my studio as the household dumping room for anything that didn’t have a home.   Then we had a two week school holiday break for the children where we made no plans – no trips, no big outings, and no commitments.  After a few days of mooching around while the kids did their own thing in their own parts of the house I decided that it was time to tackle the sewing room.  Which took about 6 hours less than I thought it would, and was not stressful.   The light was beginning to shine through the gloom that had been sitting over my creative self.

Then I decided that I needed a tea cosy for my glass teapot to keep it warm when friends dropped in and we drank multiple cups of tea in one sitting.   I did a bit of looking around on line and ended up making my own pattern and whipping this up one evening.

That was the first light bulb moment!   I found myself wanting to create!   I kept making tea cosies, even though I didn’t have a person in mind to give them to.   Then I found myself looking at all things tea related online and had my second light bulb moment. By starting to make again, but not sticking to just one method of making (sewing) and not just one type of product (accessories) I could delve into making but instead focus on a common theme.  Tea!   From there I started down the road of making resusable tea bags.   I drink a lot of tea and always put any tea bags in the compost or the worm farm.  Recently we emptied the worm farm and dug over the compost and all the tea bags appeared amongst the lovely dirt – not at all broken down.  I have since discovered that tea bags are manufactured using plastic!  While I often use an infuser I have found that the hinged ones break, and the cup ones aren’t always the right shape for the cup I want to use. The sewing machine came out, the fabric scrap bin was opened and the experimenting began.

 

After a lot of research I decided that using GOTS certified organic cotton was the safest option, and that using a tighter weave rather than the traditional loose weave muslin would ensure that the bags lasted longer.   Then I drank lots of tea (oh the hardship) using various shapes and sizes of the tea bags, decided on the best combination and sat down and began making them.  Making them involves cutting, sewing, threading, sewing, turning, ironing each little bag, so they aren’t particularly cheap to make, but I believe that they are a good investment in reducing the amount of plastic we are pouring into the earth.

This morning I got up bright and early and photographed, staged, took more photos, wrote descriptions, edited, wrote different words and finally, after a very long time, pushed the ‘publish’ button to list items for sale in my shop again.   It felt good!     I have a lot of ideas but have learnt a lot over the years about what works for me, what success looks like for me, and what causes me to become overwhelmed and freeze.   This means that I am not putting pressure on myself, and will make and list items when I can.  I am a bit proud of these first listings though!  Check out my tea cosy collection!

Yes that is eggs and bacon

And even better, yes that is avocado on toast!

I have also used this new found creative surge as an excuse to hit the charity shops in search of teapots to use for sizing the cosies and tea cups to use in making ‘things’, like a pincushion.

And then because I like having a new pincushion for my pins I made another one for my needles, using a pattern from the Lion Brand website.

So there you have it.  My creative urge is back and I am back in business, but with a new twist. Let’s see how it goes!    There has been a lot happening apart from the creative explosion, but I will save that for another time as there is a pile of crochet calling my name, and some Netflix series to binge watch.