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Friday, August 27, 2010

Etsy Featured Artist - The Dreamery Photography With a Vision



Hello all out there in craftland!  This week Stitchy sat down for a fantastic interview with Naimah from The Dreamery - Photography With a Vision (http://dreameryphotography.etsy.com/)
Pictured here is Stitchy's favorite photography of Naimah's called Hills of Green.  

Now for the interview!


Stitchy:  Some basic information, how long have you been at your craft and what originally brought you to Etsy?


Naimah: I have been working with photography since my sophomore year of high school. I was actually taking a course in photography. It was so much fun but very hard because we were using manual, film cameras, not digital. Our teacher wouldn't allow for digital cameras because he wanted us to get used to learn the functionality of our cameras and how to take the perfect picture by hand--not with state-of-the-art technology. We also developed our own film by hand which was an amazing experience in itself. Unfortunately, after the class was over, I didn't continue photography until now. I have been using digital cameras ever since but I have found a deep appreciation for those using manual, film cameras.

When I first met Etsy, I was 12 years old. I was interested in web design and coding and traveled the web to find people much like me who shared the same passion. I cam across a website that linked to etsy and when I clicked on it, I saw this cluster of handmade goods that, for a 12 year old, was fascinating, yet confusing. So, I told my sister about it and she too thought it was nice but did not know how to use it--mind you, she was 13 at the time. Years later, at age 20, my sister returned to etsy, and began her online business called Flowers From Fatima (http://flowersfromfatima.etsy.com/), where she sells floral hair accessories. She inspired me to begin my craft, which at first was graphic and web design, but now is photography. I have enjoyed every moment of it.

 
Stitchy: Where do you find your inspiration for your creations?


Naimah: My inspiration comes from nature. I love the way things in life are viewed naturally. I like the way the petals on a flower fall and the vibrant and fresh colors of fresh produce at a grocery store appeals to all of our senses. All those experiences are involved in my work and I want my customers to know that the moment they click into my shop. I am not just some ordinary photography shop--I awaken the senses and offer photography with a vision.


StitchyWho has been your biggest supporter and is there anything you'd like to be able to say to this person?


Naimah:  My mother. My mother has encouraged me to stay away from the idea that "this is just a hobby". She wanted me to know that this IS a hobby but even more than that. This is a lifestyle. Do what you love and love what you do. It makes no sense to commit yourself to finding a "real" job while trying to make more money on the side from a hobby. That's too hard. Instead, immerse yourself in your loves because it isn't a job that gets people money--it's a deep satisfaction and love for what they do, a deep wanting to be involved in their passion, that sends prosperity their way. To my mother I want to say thank you and your inspiration and endless support has not only made me a better photographer, but a more confident and understanding human being.


Stitchy:  How was your experience with your very first sale on Etsy?


Naimah:  Believe it or not, my very first sale happened the day I opened my photography shop. I was so exited! It made me so confident in my skill as a photographer and made me realize that my work does have potential to be a success.


Stitchy:  What is the one thing that you don't have, but would love to have that would greatly assist you in your creations?


Naimah:  A more profesional digital camera. I always wanted a DLSR camera that takes great macro shots--but I have no funds to purchase this. I was so surprised at the quality of my photos from my small sony camera at the moment. It does such a great job and I love it but I think having a more professional camera would greatly assist my photography.


Stitchy: What is your most favorite item in your shop and what makes it so special to you?

NaimahMy most favorite item in my shop are my Fresh Bell Peppers!


http://www.etsy.com/listing/52198942/8x10-fresh-bell-peppers-photo

This photo is so special to me because of the vibrant and mouth-watering colors! All of my customers say that it makes them want salsa. It makes me so proud that they feel this way--that from ONE photo you can feel so many emotions and senses come alive. It was such a beautiful photo that most of my customers could relate to. It embodies my motto--photography with a vision.

 
Stitchy:  What do you feel are your best marketing tools?

Naimah:  I have a website (http://dreameryphotography.com/ ) where I WILL be posting my blog eventually and I have a twitter account as well (http://twitter.com/dreameryphoto ) where I constantly update my customers on my whereabouts as well as on any shop updates. I feel like the best marketing tool thus far is my twitter account--as I do not have my blog up yet. It will be up soon. Look forward to it! Follow me on twitter for updates!

Stitchy:  What suggestions would you offer to brand new Etsy sellers?


Naimah:  It's funny because I was actually offering critiques to various shops in the forums (http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6594760 ) where I gave FULL critiques of shops for free! :) A suggestion I would offer is: Don't look at Etsy as a "get rich quick" method. I am serious. You don't understand how many people go in the chat rooms and forums complaining that they haven't made a sale when they haven't even began promoting themselves! There are so many steps to becoming successful. When you are new to crafting, it will seem like it's costly and that there will be no return for you, but there is. You are in the learning process. Take this time to learn about different forms of promotion, making friends, and lastly making money. The odd thing is, it isn't the bigger orders that get you rich fast. It's the combination of many small orders that make you a profit. Think of the Dollar Tree. $1 for every single item. Again, many small orders can make you more of a profit th an one person buying your whole store. Besides, which do you think is more likely anyway?


This has been such a wonderful interview with a great young artist!  Naimah's eye for beauty and photography is indeed great and her photos truly show her unique personality. 

Keep up the good work Naimah!

Next week's blogpost will be a 2 part article.  Primarily it'll be a new segment called Stitchy Brags, where Stitchy gets to showcase finished projects, however, this time it's even extra special because it is also the first in Stitchy's new line!

Until next time ...

xoxo,
Stitchy




Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review - Knitted Lace of Estonia: Techniques, Patterns, and Traditions

Greetings from Stitchy Impressions!

Recently I purchased the book Knitted Lace of Estonia: Techniques, Patterns, and Traditions written by Nancy Bush.  And I must say it is a great read!

Much like our previously reviewed book, Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition, this book also begins with a history of this unique and absolutely beautiful style of knitting.  Including an interesting andecdote about how a heart shaped pattern earned it's name Greta Garbo after the famous actress.

The book is also chalk full of old pictures as well as interesting information regarding scarf and shawl production during the days when Estonia was under Soviet control.

The next section of the book features techniques, stitch instructions, and blocking instructions as well as instuctions on grafting, casting on, and binding off.

The next section is my favorite however.  The next section is the patterns.  I've started making a pattern called "Peacock Tail and Leaf Scarf" (pictured) using Mango Moon Capelli yarn in Sage.  The yarn I'm using doesn't allow much for seeing the pattern but will when it's blocked.  The instuctions on the pattern are clear and concise and the grid used for the lace pattern is very simple and easy to follow.  A lot easier then I originally thought in fact.  I was nervous to make the 7-stitch nupp that was required for the scarf, but again, the ease and clarity of the instructions soon set my mind at ease and I'm making good progress in this beautifully detailed pattern.

The last section of the book shows individual lace patterns that are not incorporated into any of the patterns but easily can be for creating your own shawls and scarves.

Overall this book is a fantastic read and a perfect addition to your crafting library!

xoxo,
Stitchy

Friday, August 13, 2010

Featured Shop - The Bead Closet

Greetings from sunny Bakersfield!  Today Stitchy brings you a great interview of another fantastic Etsy seller!  Today's featured shop is none other then The Bead Closet and true to her name Bridget sells beads!! 

While we have so far tended to interview Etsy artisans and talk about their creations, it's high time that we give a big "Thank You" to those who supply the beads and findings without which there would be no beautiful jewelry items to buy. 

And so without any further ado, here is the interview:

Stitchy:  Some basic information, how long have you been finding and selling beads and what originally brought you to Etsy?


The Bead Closet:  Hello! My name is Bridget, and I manage The Bead Closet, a jewelry supply shop, based out of the New Jersey/New York area, on etsy.com. I like to think of TBC as a ,"bead boutique," in the sense that my shop is not stuffed to the brim with hundreds of thousands of pieces, but rather a collection of the pieces I have found to be the most exquisite, and riveting of their kind. I have been scoping out beads for some time now. I spent my high school summers assisting my jeweler cousin in finding beads, clasps, caps, pendants, etc. to be incorporated into her designs. I was introduced to Etsy last year when a friend of mine purchased a gorgeous anchor necklace. I took a look at the site, and the rest is history!



Stitchy: Where do you find your inspiration for the products you pick to sell?


The Bead Closet: When it comes to inspiration, I am constantly examining shops of Etsy jewelry makers, and others who bring beads, etc. into their products. I like to get a sense of what the clientele finds interesting, and mix that with my own taste to decide upon the perfect pieces to bring into my shop. I also encourage buyers to request custom orders, so they know they always have a place to turn to when in need of that specific item that they just HAVE to have to make their project a whole.



Stitchy: Who has been your biggest supporter and is there anything you'd like to be able to say to this person?


The Bead Closet: Every person who has ever clicked, "beadcloset," is an enormous supporter of mine. To be able to get my name out there, and have it be accepted is extremely supportive, and rewarding. I know I'm sounding like some sort of pop-sensation, or human rights activist, not an online jewelry supplier, but I can't help it! There are a few special Etsians I would like to mention, however. First of all, http://stitchyimpressions.etsy.com/ has been crucial in helping me become known. My first buyer, http://daniellesjewelry.etsy.com/, for taking a chance and purchasing from a little supplier with no sales, no feedback, nada, and of course, my close Etsy friends, http://erynlovely.etsy.com/, http://lisadonnelly.etsy.com/, http://alaroycreature.etsy.com/, http://bertlene123.etsy.com/, and http://ferncuriosities.etsy.com/. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! (There's the Academy Award winner in me coming out!)



Stitchy: As an artist, what are your favorite types of beads?


The Bead Closet: When it comes to my favorite types of beads, I tend to take a liking to the gemstones and resins. I love the natural essence present in them, and their appearance once they are compiled into a beautiful product.



Stitchy:  How was your experience with your very first sale on Etsy?


The Bead Closet: Ah! My first etsy sale! When I began using Etsy a couple of weeks ago, I was so paranoid of linking my bank account to Paypal, so for the first day or two, I only accepted checks/money orders. Big mistake! So when someone (http://daniellesjewelry.etsy.com/) took a liking to my Antique Brass Flower Caps, it was either get Paypal (and fast!) or die, (or you know, just lose a sale.). I took the leap of faith, frantically sprinting to Paypal, setting up an account, and receiving my first payment! It was completely worth it after that, and a big load has been lifted off my shoulders when it comes to payment.



Stitchy: Do you also participate in local venues like craft fairs, and if you do what are some suggestions that help make that a success?


The Bead Closet:  I have not taken part in any craft/supply fairs as of now, however, I have been on the look-out for venues in my area. I'm sure it would be a great experience, and a chance for me to try out some face-to-face business.



Stitchy: What is the one thing that you don't have, but would love to have that would greatly assist you in your shop?


The Bead Closet: There are an inordinate amount of items I would love to have for my shop, mostly items retaining to branding. One thing I am dying to have are personalized address labels. Right now, I use some I got when I was a kid, and cut off my name so it seems more professional. I think a nice elegant stamp, or some sort of design with, "The Bead Closet," and my address printed on it would improve my shop, and I could save the, "address label cutting," step during my packaging process.



Stitchy:  What is your most favorite item in your shop and what makes it so special to you?


The Bead Closet:  I would have to say one of my most prized shop items, that it will be bittersweet when it is sold, are the 6mm Czech Fire Polish Milky Pink beads, (http://www.etsy.com/listing/52529816/6mm-czech-fire-polish-milky-pink-beads ). This is the very first item that was added when The Bead Closet opened, and it just can't seem to find a home. I think they are some of the most beautiful beads I have ever laid my eyes on, and my cousin used to love to work with them during her amateur jewelry-making days. They are so simple, yet, can add so much to one piece with their presence. Help them find a home!



Stitchy:  What do you feel are your best marketing tools?


The Bead Closet:  The chat rooms have done wonders for me in terms of marketing tools! I have not only found supportive friends, it is almost as if you are a little town shop, with the same reliable people running in and out, buying, promoting, etc. for you. I do use facebook to market: (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bead-Closet/146577112026403?ref=ts ) as well as twitter: www.twitter.com/thebeadcloset , but they do not seem to have done as much for me, at least, not for the time being.



Stitchy:  What suggestions would you offer to brand new Etsy sellers?


The Bead Seller:  Although I'm still pretty new myself, to those of you just joining etsy, remember, communication is everything! It's not only important to communicate with your buyer, so they don't feel in the dark, but as you start out, be sure you're taling to people, getting your name out there. I wouldn't spend money on a showcase just yet, instead, see if you can get into some treasuries, (in my opinion, better advertisement than a showcase, especially if you're lucky enough to get on the homepage!), make use of the forums and chat rooms, and keep your show coherent and clean! Just be patient, and soon enough, a sale will come in. Your sales will become more frequent as the number of sales and feedback you have increase.




What a fantastic interview!!  Please be sure to check out The Bead Closet the next time you're looking for something wonderful and unique to make your jewelry designs one of a kind!


xoxo,
Stitchy

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review - Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition

A while back I bought this absolutely wonderful book called Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea and I must say that it was completely worth the cost.

I had started noticing Norwegian mitten patterns online when I was first learning to knit, but being new to knitting I was very unsure about wanting to even attempt these mittens. 

In doing some more research however I found out about this book and even better then that, I found it on knitpicks.com which I had just recently discovered around the same time so I ordered it. 

The book begins with a detailed history of how these mittens started in Norway by two sisters, how they expanded to quite the cottage industry, as well as many other facts that make them so special.  I was particularly intrigued by how the tops of the mittens and of each finger on the gloves comes to a point instead of being rounded like one would expect.  I also was able to learn about the different types of designs and how they were incorporated into the peices.  It was an interesting read.

After the history of the the mittens and their invention comes 30 patterns the majority of which were based off of actual historic peices from the original creators that are now in museums.  The one pictured is what I am currently working on and it is the very first pattern in the book.  I hope I have it completed in time for winter!  Unfortunately the adult ADD may prevent that but here's hoping!

I also did create and already complete a pair of mittens in lime green and brown.  Again they were based off of a museum peice and included the name "Esther" in the decoration. 

Being so new to knitting and having a tendency to make things harder then necessary, I had a difficult time at first.  However, the instructions were pretty clear and I was able to make the mittens without any issues.  I was so happy that the mittens turned out that I then started these blue and white gloves and am happy how they are turning out as well.  I even went so far as to go out and buy a notebook of graph paper so I can make my own designs.

I would highly recommend to any knew knitter who happens to come across this book to definitely begin with mittens first and then graduate to gloves once you get used to the technique.

Overall - this is a fantastic book that definitely should belong in every knitter's library!  Be sure to have a look the next time you come across it and I can guarentee that you will fall in love with these designs.

xoxo,
Stitchy