Pink and Turquoise

Sometimes there is a color combo that just screams "loving it!" to me. In this case, it's the pink and turquoise pairing that is popular this year for little girls. It is so bright and modern, yet girly as can be! I had some pretty pink yarn available, and a gorgeous turquoise and I knew it was time to come up with something using these two together. I created a lacy cloche and then added a fun flower from my own patterns for this particular hat. Really so please with this look. The hat looks so delicate and lovely, and the bold pop of color gives it a modern twist to a classic cloche. If you want to see more on this hat, just follow the link for more shots and information:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/127775725/pink-hat-with-blue-flower-crochet?ref=shop_home_active

Here are a couple photos for you to enjoy as well.

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Fondly,
V~

https://www.etsy.com/shop/VSMHandcraftedDesign?ref=top_trail

Cheerful Spring Hats

I said I would include a post about the new style hats I've come up with for little girls and here it is. I am in love with this particular design and so happy with the look. I am offering these on my Etsy shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/VSMHandcraftedDesign, in the three different color combinations shown here. But that doesn't mean those will be the only color combos I'll make. I'm always up for a custom order and look forward to it :)

Again, this is a fun way to put granny squares to use, and to make it extra girly, I added on the lotus blossom pattern I've come up with through the years.

Take a look and enjoy!

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For more detailed listings and other shots of each of these hats just follow these links:

Yellow and Orange Hat- https://www.etsy.com/listing/127507856/yellow-hat-with-orange-flower-accent-for?ref=shop_home_active

White and Purple Hat- https://www.etsy.com/listing/127507284/white-hat-with-purple-flower-accent-for?ref=v1_other_2

Green and Purple Hat- https://www.etsy.com/listing/127091164/green-hat-with-purple-flower-accent-for?ref=shop_home_active

Have a great one!

The Strength of a Fighter Part Two

I mentioned I would be making more hats for my friend and wanted to share them here with you. The first hat is made with a rich creamy yarn and I used a fun technique of combining granny squares together to form the hat itself. Then I went and added a fun scalloped brim to really heighten the feminine aspect. I'm so pleased with how it turned out and it actually inspired me for some cute little girl hats, which I'll post in a different entry. The second had uses a gorgeous light heathered sage yarn and I came up with a simple slouch beanie design for it.

After completing this personal project, I've become inspired to start up a line for those fighting cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. While not quite up and running on my shop page, I am definitely thinking of it daily along with the many options and styles I want to offer.

Once again, I amazed at the strength my friend is displaying through all of this. She is an inspiration each and every day!

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The Strength of a Fighter

I have a friend. Her name is Jen. Jen is incredible. Jen is caring. Jen is sweet. Jen is considerate. Jen is vibrant. Jen loves fiercely. Jen is an awesome mom and wife. Jen was diagnosed w. breast cancer.

Talk about a rug out from under you moment. For anyone lucky enough to know this woman, it came as a total surprise but we all knew she has the ability to fight this beast and win. She is already on the path to fight it and has undergone surgery and now moving onto chemo.

She is truly an amazing friend. When I got into a car accident while 7 months pregnant w. kid #2, she jumped right in and picked up our eldest and took care of him while I was monitored in the hospital. She and her kids would come over and play at our place, and vice versa. Our husbands got along great, and it was always just so fun. I love talking and laughing w. her and her heart is as big as can be.

She actually lived not to far away from me, but this past summer she and her family moved out to the Mid West. Wanting to be able to do something for her from my end of the states I decided that I would make sure she had some great hats to wear while going through treatments since I wouldn't be able to get out there to see her.

True to her wonderful nature, when asked what she wants she gave me free rein. So of course I took that and went off and running.

This first hat is a blend of a beautiful rich teal yarn and a burgundy yarn. I made it into a fun and stylish cloche form, and as a little symbol of my love for her, I added on a heart for an accent. I plan on making a couple more for her, but wanted to share this one.

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Fondly,

Vanessa

https://www.etsy.com/shop/VSMHandcraftedDesign

Feeling a Little Sketchy

Don't get me wrong. I love to crochet. I'm inspired by it daily and love making something out of a strand of yarn. However, every so often my creative outlets need to flow elsewhere and in this case, a finding of my graphite pencils, has me sketching again. I used to be far more active, and let's face it proficient, back in college and high school when I actually took the time to sketch. Getting married, having kids, and a crochet business sort of got in the way of keeping up with this.

When I found the pencils, I thought, "why not?" and decided to see how rusty I've gotten since the last art class in college. I decided to take a picture I had of my two boys and turn it into a pencil sketch. I loved the picture itself, but it was taken more with the point to showcase the newer fur addition to our home. She decided she didn't want a picture taken, yet the pose my little men put on was perfect. Here's the original:

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See what I mean? Cute pose, not so cute a shot. Okay, so yeah, there is the luck of cropping! Which I did, and then also switched it over to a B&W shot.

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Now came the fun of breaking out the technique I learned in college where you create a grid of the photo and transfer it to a larger one on paper. It's an older technique used by many master artists, especially fresco painters, and helps the artist get a closer approximation of facial feature spacing and the like. I have no idea what it is actually called, but it does exist.

Going about this after a long time made me realize how out of practice I've gotten. Before, it would have been a quick and easy project, but this took me a bit of time relearning to see the negative space, allowing my wrists to loosen up (completely foreign idea to my now used to crochet hands), and working with pencils. When done, I definitely had to go back and fix a few things, and it's not exactly perfection, but I gotta say, I'm happy that I now have a pencil sketch of my kiddos. Here's the end product:

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To try and get more practice, I've had friends of mine send me pictures of their kids. I'm learning higher the resolution of the photo, the easier it is to recapture their little ones.

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The first picture was a photographer grade quality pic, the second was a quick snap shot. With the second, I had to do a little more filling in the blank of features since they were more washed out. I was amazed at the difference this creates between having a sharp photo in comparison to a less focused one. But hey, it's all a learning process and honestly, a nice break.

I'm looking forward to working on a couple more pencil sketch portraits for some more friends.

Fondly,

V~

Forest Green Flare

Fingerless mittens, gloves, arm warmers, whatever it is you wish you call these lovelies are certainly a big fashion statement right now. I've made a few designs of my own this past year in response to this trend, but the ones I created most recently are probably my favorite, at least at the moment.

I wanted to take the look past a basic design and give it a bit more of a flirty feminine touch. To do so, I decided to extend the cuffs, give them a more open lacework look, and bring that motif back in to the top of the mitten. To add to that I put in a drawstring like bow w. fleur de lis charms so the wearer can either loosen or tighten the mittens for a better fit. I had a gorgeous forest green yarn that I've been wanting to use, and thought it perfect for this particular design. Rather than go for a classic girly girl color, this brings in an unexpected element.
Here are some pictures of them...

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If you would like more information on purchasing these, just follow the link:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/125409339/forest-green-crochet-lacework-fingerless

Fondly,
V~

Precious Pixie

I need to preface this with a simple statement- No, I am not pregnant nor planning to have any more children...

That being said, I A.D.O.R.E. making baby items. There is just something so sweet and wonderful about a little baby hat, or a snuggly blanket, or a cute little pair of booties. It never gets old and I am rarely w.out means of inspiration for making something new.

This little bonnet is the latest example. Baby bonnets are always a classic look for the little ones, but I wanted to do something a little whimsical and different. Hence this design. Tapping into my collection of fairy prints and fairy tales, I came up with this sweet, delicate bonnet with a peak at the cap. From the scallops that frame the face, to the lace like stitches, and pretty pale pink, it just begs to be placed on the head of an adorable little cutie. Designs like this always get me excited and I look forward to see where this one will go. Here are a few pictures of it and a link to my shop if you would like more details on it.

Fondly,

V~

https://www.etsy.com/listing/125621073/pixie-elfin-fairy-tale-inspired-pink?ref=pr_shop

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Books, My Other Vice ;)

I always love it when I can blend my affinities together. In this case, my love for crochet and love for reading worked together to inspire me to create a fun line of bookmarks for my shop. Sure, I am one of many bookworms who will grab a slip of paper, the latest postcard of junk mail, or whatever is handy to mark my spot, but there are five bookmarks I own, that are my most treasured book related possessions. Simply slipping them into the pages of my current reads make me smile. I love the look of the tassel or charm dangling out and showing my progress, and the simple beauty of each of them. When stopping one night, I became inspired to make some of my own to sell on my shop. I must say, I've enjoyed this bit of inspiration and intend to carry out even more designs for books and book lovers everywhere.

If you'd like to see what I have to offer just follow this link:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/VSMHandcraftedDesign?section_id=13159617

I'm also posting some of my favorite pictures of the collection thus far. Enjoy!

Fondly,

V~

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It Starts with a Smile

If there is one thing that I am so amazed with about my town, it's the incredible support everyone provides to each other. From the aftermath of Sandy, to the simple helping a neighbor out, we have really lucked out with finding such a wonderful community and making it our home.The strength of the community of Hackettstown, NJ once again shines through in the efforts to support and help a little girl, named Margaret, and her family.

I first heard about Margaret from a friend of mine, then really got to know more of her story through a community Facebook page that started up as a means to help keep everyone informed of ways to help. In short, she is a young girl battling a malignant brain tumor. I ask that you visit this page to get her story and learn of the many options out there to show this little girl your support. Just follow this link:

https://www.facebook.com/SmilesForMargaret

If you would like to help out Margaret and her family, there is also a fundraising link that's been set up. Every little bit will help the family w. medical care costs for her treatment.
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/eRpke?psid=63bfa5a4bdcc48c68e319d1cb71d6e93

After reading through this page, and speaking with my other friend who started it up, I decided that I too wanted to add in my efforts in as best as I could. If you follow this blog, or Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/VSMHandcraftedDesigns, you know in the past I would collect yarn from a group of people in order to create an afghan for the receiver. I thought that this would be a great concept to put to use in order to create something for Margaret to have as a physical representation of all the support and love she is getting from the town and its residents.

So, I arranged for those who wanted to participate to pick out a yarn and drop it off at my house or with my friend and once everything came in, I would then make an afghan and a few hats for Margaret. I started off first with the hats:

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This first hat is a beautiful combination of ruby tones and rich browns. The second I saw it, I knew it would be a great yarn for a hat. Made in a beret style, I added in a fun broomstick swirl pattern to give it some visual interest.

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This second hat has an amazing blend of earth tones and deep purples. For this particular hat, I added in a shell edge and a rib detail on the body of the hat.

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The third hat is a simple pattern made with a yarn that has some pretty blends of pinks and purples.


When all the donations of yarn finally came in, I began to design the afghan. There were a few ideas of how I planned to create this gift, but in the end, I ended up doing something new by combining smaller granny squares with larger ones. I also created the three complimenting patterns of granny squares. The smaller ones have a pretty flower motif in the center, as do the corner squares. The body squares are a geometric diamond pattern to add in another depth of visual interest. Here are a few closeups of each square style:

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Body Square

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Corner Square

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Smaller Border Square

The trick to all of these afghans is trying to figure out the best way to make all the colors work together. As a result, I decided to take the multi tone yarns and pair them with a complimenting or contrasting color to create 4 squares to block together:

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To connect these smaller squares together, I used a rich ruby red yarn that would also be used for the corner squares to help act as an anchor color for the entire afghan. For the body colors I made a point to keep them as solid blocks of color. Once this was established, I began to lay out the many pieces:

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Upper Corner Starting Point

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Majority Layout (Minus 2 Green Squares)

When everything was arranged, I then began to connect all the squares using a grid approach with the ruby red yarn. As you can see, the smaller squares had already been connected using this method. It's at this point that the afghan really began to take shape and show its potential. Once everything got connected, it was just a matter of weaving in the loose ends from all the various colors:

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All said and done, we got 13 colors of yarn from various people in the area, and even out of area. It was amazing and touching to see how so many wanted to help out this little girl. I also collected notes from the contributors to be passed along to Margaret when she receives this. I truly hope she enjoys the final products and gets comfort from the soft warmth they will provide. And so, here it is folks, The Margaret Afghan. Thanks to my neighbor and her daughter for helping me display this and to all to participated :)


Fondly,

Vanessa

https://www.etsy.com/shop/VSMHandcraftedDesign

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E if for Etsy, but Don't Expect Easy! (Things I've Learned and am Still Learning as a Shop Owner)

So I started a shop a couple of months ago, and I thought it would be pretty darn straightforward. Have some items ready made, take a pic, upload, and some basic info TADAH! You're good to go w. your Etsy shop. (Please pay no attention to the current me laughing and pointing at the ill informed me from two months ago.)

Etsy=EASY. Ummmmm, going with a big ole "NO" on this one!

Ok, maybe if you are just working strictly off the hobby mentality and you need a place to help your own home from getting inundated with all your crafts, then sure, it can be that simple. If you want to really make a go of things, my suggestion before actually starting up a shop, join a few teams, brush up on SEO and get ready to become reaaaaaaaallly good at taking good pictures, or at least dealing w. fixing them on Photoshop or Picasa, or whatever you use. Also, check out how you fare in comparison to like minded owners and products, and be ready to spend lots of time figuring out how to create treasuries, and use other social networks to your advantage.

Still want to take the Etsy plunge?

In all seriousness though, this is all something I wish I knew going into it. I've been spending so many hours, and quite honestly, days, fixing and improving as I go along. There is definitely a learning curve to take into account when you first get up and running. But don't get me wrong, I'm still glad I am getting my stuff out there.

Like I said though, you definitely need to figure out a few things initially.

1. Your market audience- Don't expect everyone to love what you do. You have to be ready to target a certain market. Best way to figure out if your market is there is to search the web for similar things to what you make and then see the quantity and for how much these things are selling for at the moment. I did this before starting up and glad I did. Sure, there are a good number of crochet shops and items out there, but I started noticing that even though there is a good amount of options, there were definitely different veins of tastes and presentation. I knew that my stuff had a different appeal than some other things out there, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's actually why I felt ok taking the plunge.

What did it mean to me? Well, basically, I decided I would keep working w. nicer yarn, and finer stitch detail to aim for a middle to upper quality market. Sure, I could go quick and dirty and get the cheapest yarn possible and create faster to make patterns, but then I wouldn't really be doing what I love.

What did I learn? I needed to make sure that I still have items of varying prices to help draw in more people. I purposely created some items in the $10-20 bracket to help bring in some people wanting to work w. a lower budget. By doing so, they get to see the quality at which I do my work, but still feel comfortable placing an order w. me. Guess what, just because you use cheaper materials, and keep prices lower, doesn't exactly mean it will draw in the crowds. The old adage "You get what you pay for" holds true, especially in the artisan, crafter market. People are going to be able to tell something is cheap and if they are looking for something special and well made, they are not going to be so willing to save a few bucks for something that doesn't exactly scream quality.

2. Figure out how to take good pictures and various shots of your items!!!

I mean it. Go to the Team section on Etsy and research your little heart out. There are some really great sources for picture taking and presentation on Etsy alone. Heck, hit Pinterest and look for photography pins there and even that will help.

Biggest factors when taking pictures. Solid background (white or light color if you can), good lighting (natural is best, but there are some great photo cubes w artificial lighting options as well), more than one shot (in other words lots of different angles), basic understanding of a photo editing program.

Why a solid background? It presents your items far better than a cluttered up shot of your item propped up on a table w. various brick-a-brack. You want the buyers to see what you are selling, not wondering what is for sale in the shot. Lighter colors seem to be the mode on Etsy. If you scope out treasuries and highly favorited items, the trend is a lighter background. Use that to your advantage.

Good lighting is necessary because it will show off the details of your items better. Simple as that.

Purpose of more than one shot? Think about it, you don't have the advantage online to pick up the item, flip it over, feel it, and get and all around sense of it. It's your job as the seller to try as capture all this in the 5 slots Etsy provides. You want your buyers to feel like they have a great feel for it just by looking at photos.

Here's a link to one of my own listings for you to get an idea of what I mean:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/124182862/girls-crochet-easter-ruffle-purse-easter.



3.SEO and Tags

This is another important factor that quite frankly I am still trying to perfect, and that's ok.
It boils down to making sure the title of your items and the tags you give them are searchable on both Google and Etsy.

Since I am still learning, I'm suggesting this particular team on Etsy to help you out. The captain has some incredible advice and is so helpful!!

http://www.etsy.com/teams/12360/friendly-seo

Make sure to read the discussion posts and take notes!

4. Team Building, Treasuries and Circles

You may feel like you are all alone out there in the Etsy world, and when you start, it is a bit true. But, if you make an effort to join a few teams, add people to your circle/follower list, and create treasuries of items you favorite, suddenly you'll realize there are like minded people out there who want to help each other.

It's basically built in networking in the Etsy community!

Here are a couple of teams I'm a part of and recommend:

http://www.etsy.com/teams/15088/promotingrus?ref=pr_teams

http://www.etsy.com/teams/14959/etsy-promotion-and-advertising


Hopefully, this hasn't overwhelmed you. My point for this is to give the Etsy newbs a heads up and a little bit of a better understanding of what you'll face when starting. Once things start to click the majority will become second nature. Creating a listing is a heck of a lot easier now than it was just a few months ago!

Good luck to you and see you on the Etsy side of life!

Want to see my shop in action? Please visit me at:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/VSMHandcraftedDesign

or

https://www.facebook.com/VSMHandcraftedDesigns
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