Sunday, 21 September 2008

Summer is almost over

Summer is almost over! Where has this year gone?

With all the changes coming about on Ebay I have been spending way too much time trying to refine our products for the new listing criteria. The fact that I will not be able to list items with immediate purchase that cost less than 99p was a cruel blow. I like being able to offer a choice of 1 metre of this and 1 metre of that. I will of course still be offering this choice on but a huge proportion of craft buyers like to mix and match smaller quantities together for certain projects.

Anyway, enough of my moaning!

Our Destination buttons are a fantastic way of preserving memories. Did you have a holiday in New York or the Far East?

Using these themed craft buttons to highlight a page within your holiday scrapbook or memory box is a great start.

Some come with shanks, some don’t. Simply snip the shank off with wire cutters, nail clippers or sharp craft scissors for an instant flatback.

We currently have 10 different destinations to choose from as well as dragons, mermaids, fairies and pirates!

Of course our range of Creative Charms can be used to compliment your memories too as described in our earlier blog.

What a way to preserve your seaside holiday!

Karen x

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Beginners guide to embroidery, patterns and fabric

Choose your fabric and a simple pattern. Fabrics made from 100% cotton, such as calico, are the easiest to embroider on for beginners. Remember most patterns are copyrighted and their uses can be restricted so check carefully before using them. There are many free patterns available from talented designers, though as you learn from your new craft you may very well start creating your own designs to use, as I do for some of my hand embroidered cushions.
Trace your pattern onto your fabric using a sharp dressmakers pencil or washable marker.

I use a disappearing marker (or fade away) for my embroidery as I found that sometimes the traced design did not disappear without vigorous washing which is not always practical. You may very well not be able to see the design clearly enough by simply placing it underneath your fabric. If not you can use a well lit window. Tape your pattern to the window pane with masking tape and then tape your fabric over the top. Make sure the design and your fabric are both straight and stretched taut. This will make tracing a lot easier and your design should be clearly visible. Some crafters use a light box to illuminate their pattern but I found these are very expensive for occasional use. Dean made me a simple light box from scraps of wood with a Perspex top and an energy saving bulb within.

Place your embroidery hoop onto your fabric. The fabric should be taut. Always remember to take your fabric out of the hoop when you are not working on it. I always used wooden embroidery hoops until a friend lent me a plastic hoop. I find these hold my fabric much tauter but every crafter has their own preference including lap frames and for larger projects floor frames.

Choose your coloured embroidery threads to compliment your design and fabric. Most embroidery thread, also known as floss, is made up of 6 strands. Use 2 or 3 strands. I always wash red threads before using them as I find they have a higher tendency to bleed. I then rinse the threads with a mild vinegar solution to ‘set’ the colour fastness. I also always use good quality thread such as Anchor or DMC as snagging is less frequent and they are much easier to sew with. I would highly recommend avoiding using metallic threads until your experience has built up and your patience has increased at least tenfold! These threads although very beautiful are very difficult to embroider with due to their delicate make up.

Always, always use a sharp needle!

Crewel needles are used for most embroidery stitches, as the sharp point & large eye make them easy to work with. They are medium- length and are used for embroidery on plain weave fabric. Choose a needle that takes the thread easily. Whilst a small needle will help to keep your work fine, if the needle is too small for the thread you will find it hard to pull the thread through the fabric. Thread your needle and start to embroider using your chosen stitch. I start my embroidery within the main colour area, unlike cross stitch in which you should start work from the centre.

Backstitch is a very simple stitch to master for beginners which I will add instructions on how to do in a later guide.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Using Craftime Creative Charms

When you think of charms you think of jewellery. You may imagine Charm bracelets with multiple charms, each having its own special story or, you may think of a single charm hanging from a necklace.

While these two are probably the more popular uses of charms, they are not the only ones by far.

Creative Charms have gained in popularity for their wide range of uses. Creative Charms are very high quality, three dimensional metal charms with intricate detailing. All Creative Charms come with a metal fixing ring and many pieces come with beautifully coloured enamel and inlaid crystals as shown below.

Many people passionate about crafts have found various ways of using charms besides the typical ones. Charms can be used for adding a special touch when card making , on bookmarks, in scrapbook pages, as mobile phone embellishments, adding to home soft furnishings (they can even be put onto curtain tie backs),as wine glass charms …..the list could go on and on!

Scrapbooking is a very popular past time. Hours are spent making the family pictures reflect the emotions felt the day they were taken. By placing a charm of a swimsuit next to the page with your child's first visit to the beach, or a love heart next to the picture of you and your partner you will add that little bit of sparkle needed to complete the page.

If you are looking for a unique fund raiser, think about using Creative Charms. You will find that the added touch of Creative Charms will increase the appeal of your product and will, in turn, increase the amount of money you earn for your cause.

I have one customer that adds Creative Charms to handmade mobile phone ‘socks’, another that uses Creative Charms in tiny bracelets for Reborn babies and yet another who used Creative Charms on literally everything for her Wedding Day, from the invitations to the beautiful handcrafted vellum wine glass tealight shades.

Charms can be used in or on anything that your creative imagination can come up with.

It is important to keep in mind, no matter what the craft is or what charm is used, that the charm is lead free. Lead has been found in imported charms. Please make sure that you know where your charms came from and that they are free of lead.

Creative Charms are all lead free.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


I woke up this morning and switched the PC on as usual.

I had a very sad message from a lady who lives in Spain. On Ebay I have created a page to try and describe fibromyalgia and how if affects me. I did not want it to be all doom and gloom but a way to show fellow sufferers that they are not going mad, the pain is real but you can work through it and around it. Anyway back to the lady who wrote to me. This lady has had several operations, both hips replaced and lives on pain killers. Her pain is undoubtedly worse than I suffer but she still continues to fight and live life as normal as possible.

Everyday I see or hear of people fighting pain, discomfort and disability to live a 'normal' life.

Another lady was in a horrific car accident last year that has meant she has had to give up work. Not content with sitting alone everyday whilst her children are at school and her husband is at work, she has decided to start her own business making handmade cards, wedding stationery and other crafts. As well as being very good at what she does, it is also a form of therapy (although she may not even realise it yet). Crafting takes your mind elsewhere and focuses you on other things. I am helping this lady get to where I am now. I have given her advice and encouragement and in return I have her friendship and trust. How wonderful is that!?

Another of my customers is a very talented, compassionate and dedicated crafter who helps others to express their thoughts and feelings through art and crafts. Whenever I have goods that I feel would be helpful I package them up and send them off to her.

In my attempt to help I have decided to use my own website to help promote fellow crafters. Be they disabled mentally or physically, looking for a new source of income or just crafting because they love it. The UK is filled with many talented people, courageous people and thoroughly NICE people.

Our communities are slowly eroding and people are becoming more and more isolated. Being online is a terrific way to get support and encouragement from other people you may not otherwise ever get the chance to meet. So for people like Patricia, Denny, Mel, Tamsin and many many others long may we continue to craft, share and discover.

Monday, 30 June 2008

I knew it!

I knew it. I knew I would not be able to keep up with a blog!

I have almost finished stocking the webstore...or rather I had almost finished until I bought more stock. Then of course I opened another shop, this time on Ebid which of course also needs stocking. I really should just concentrate on one thing at a time before jumping into anything else.

I had my first sale from Kay Dees which was fantastic. More exciting than my first sale as a business. I have no idea how my buyer found me, but find me she did! I was a little confused at first as there was no indication from my Paypal payment received email that the sale was from my webshop. I really must find a way of seperating the email accounts through Paypal so I will know who is buying what from where. Ebay is easy as you have a title and item number. I have yet to make a sale on Ebid so do not know how those invoices will come through.

Maybe I am trying to run before I can walk?

Dean took a week off work and has made some fantastic chalkboards.

Kay Dees was originally about us selling our own handcrafted items but we have not had the time to work on our own creations. I bought Dean a mini router and he has been like a dog with 2 tails! He worked really hard and we have managed to finish 15 chalkboards. I have not put them for sale anywhere except our Ebay shop for now as the more experienced shop owners I talk to tell me summer is usually quiet for sales.

I wish that I could earn enough money from Kay Dees for him to give up work and for both of us to concentrate on making our items, but that is not possible at the moment nor for the foreseeable future. I spend hours sat at the PC tweaking and refining item details, making cushions, mobile phone charms and spending money on yet more stock in the hope that it will one day be possible.......

Friday, 23 May 2008

Cushions currently available

Starting a business selling your own handmade cushions is hard work!

Unless you sew at the speed of light there are never enough for sale. My ideas for new cushions are not always practical and I have learned never to sew with metallic thread unless there is absolutely NO other option available. I also create at least a dozen designs for every one I actually sew. But to sew and also manage 2 online shops at the same time...there just isn't enough hours in the day!

I love sewing my designs and seeing them take shape but with only a limited few available I knew I had to bulk out the things I sell.

My idea for selling charms came from making cushions. I wanted to add something to them that showed they were handmade. Trawling through the millions of charms available was daunting to say the least. Until I found Craftime. Their Creative Charms were just what I was looking for. They are high quality and so easy to work with.

Then of course came the hanging hearts and lavender bags. I needed some ribbon to finish them off and finding high quality ribbon was a lot harder than I imagined! Until I discovered Berisfords and Club Green.

To finish off some of my cushions and hangers I also wanted buttons...back to Craftime. Wow what an assortment of buttons to choose from.

You can see how Kay Dee's progressed from a tiny shop selling a dozen cushions to a small shop selling cushions, hangers, ribbons, charms and craft buttons!

My first Blog post!

I have absolutely no idea why I am doing a blog.

I was never one for keeping a diary or even keeping tabs on special events....all of my friends can confirm I have no memory for birthdates or special events.

What on earth will I write about everyday or every week?

Do people really want to know how long I was out walking my dogs for and where we went? Do they want to know how many trips to the Post Office I have made...delivering small packets to people I have little or no knowledge about?

I work from home so have no office gossip to share, nor insider knowledge to pass on. I can comment about my neighbours activities, but as I have no interest in what they are doing or indeed why they are doing it why would someone else?

I do not frequent bars, clubs or restaurants so cannot pass on pictures of people doing silly things because of the amount of alcohol they have consumed. (Although I do have several photographs and a long memory for events of this nature from my younger days.)

My lovelife although very fulfilling to me is of little consequence to anyone else. I am in love with one man who is in love with me. Nothing seedy or torrid about us, we just love each other. We are planning to get married this year which would only be of interest to many who know me purely for the shock value! We will probably get married wearing jeans at our local registry office so there are no wedding dresses to make, suits to hire, venues to book or even stationery to design.

So what will I write about? Maybe my business and the pitfalls I find small business owners face? Maybe my designs, products and finished goods? Maybe I could comment on how my illness affects my everyday living...but that would be a touch depressing which is not me at all. Perhaps it would be better to write about obstacles it creates and how I get around them?

There, it's settled.

My blog will be about me, as a small business owner with a chronic illness.