“Falling Out of Love” – 3 Ways to Avoid This Feeling – #3 is my Favorite!

“I Don’t Want to Create!” I just do not want to crochet another bath puff, knit another cloth, sew another skirt, create another card, design another bracelet, etc. Have you ever felt that way? You have?  Then stop creating! Wait… it is not so easy to stop creating when that is your business. When you own a craft business, then creating is what you do, even when you don’t feel like it….

I can hear you saying, “But Loretta, I purposely created a business around what I enjoy doing”. Is it possible to fall out of love with your craft? When you have created the same item 200 times in 4 days, are you still excited?

I will leave you to answer that question for yourself. My answer is… “No, I am not excited to crochet the exact same item 200+ times in 4 days.” However, I do it because this is my business and my business revolves around me creating. For wholesale orders, I crochet 100s of organic cotton face scrubbies in just days.

organic cotton cloth

I still enjoy my business! I meet great people, crochet and enjoy organic and eco-friendly yarn. But, I have experienced that “craft overload” feeling when I wasn’t having fun anymore.

What do I do?

  1. Stop and reevaluate  I ask myself questions like do I need to schedule time so that I do less made to order projects and maintain more stock -or- should I continue to offer wholesale.  Take time to find out what your goals are and the best way to achieve them.
  2. Diversify  Are there other items that you enjoy creating that would break up the monotony of creating the same item or utilizing the same techniques?  I did that with these burlap flower pouches.  I just wanted to do something different. eco burlap drawstring gift bags
  3. Learn Something New  Yes, take time away from what you do all the time and learn a new technique or a craft.  I get books from the library or my new favorite pastime is to browse Craftsy (my affiliate link) for new things to learn.  I’m taking the Design Your Own Monster Class  this month.  This is for fun!  When is the last time you created just for fun?

Now, I don’t want to be the “Jane of all trades and master of none”.  I blogged about that in 2012.  However, sometimes, I just want to create just for me or as gift for someone else… not for the business.  So when I come back to crafting for the business, I’m refreshed.  It works for me.  What about you… Do you ever experience craft overload? Share your story in the comments below.

As for my amigurumi monsters that I’m creating… follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see my progress.  I’ll post my creations…even if they are ugly.

 

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Open & Honest> Please note that some of the links on my site are affiliate links which means if you click on the link & purchase something, you will NOT pay extra, but I will receive a small percentage of the sale. I provide these links as resources, items that I use; items that I trust.

Craft Fail – Jute and T-shirt Yarn

What is that? Okay, then what do you use it for? Those were the questions that I was asked at a craft show when one of the customers picked up one of the items on my table. I enthusiastically answered the first question.

Customer: What is that?
Me: It’s a flower made using t-shirt yarn and attached to a jute backing so it can be hung or laid flat for decoration.

Customer: Okay, then what do you use it for?
Me: It can be hung or laid flat for decoration. It’s a unique way to add color to your desk or wall space.
Customer: Oh (She walks away)

Now, I am not a sensitive person. But, I will admit, I realized that my t-shirt flower design was a “craft fail”. Why? Because, prior to adding it to my table at the craft fair, it had sat unloved in my Etsy shop for quite a while.

CubeArtPurpleT5

Where is it now? In my drawer. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. And I think that is the problem. When we part with our hard earned money, we want to purchase useful items or creations that just wow us. Unfortunately, my crocheted t-shirt flower did not meet those expectations.

How many unloved items do you have lying around? Or am I the only one with a few in my drawer?

 

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Open & Honest> Please note that some of the links on my site are affiliate links which means if you click on the link & purchase something, you will NOT pay extra, but I will receive a small percentage of the sale. I provide these links as resources, items that I use; items that I trust.

And the Answer is….

What was my best selling item in 2013? I asked that question on Facebook last week and gave the choices of hemp yarn, hemp paper tags and my handmade hemp soap sacks. Hemp yarn and paper tags were the top choices.

Now, interestingly enough, I did not have the answer when I asked the question. But I did some quick number crunching and the answer is ……

Hemp Yarn Natural DK

Yes, hemp yarn was my best selling item in 2013. The hemp paper tags and handmade soap sacks were pretty much tied in second place.

Are you new to my shop and / or blog? If so, then you are probably asking what is the big deal about hemp. It is definitely my fiber of choice. If you want to know more about hemp, then check out my post, Exploring Hemp Fiber.

Whats in store for 2014? More hemp yarn, paper tags and soap sacks. Watch out for sales on jute gift bags, book marks, and organic lavender sachets that I am clearing out of my Etsy shop. A redesign of the shop here at thoughtfulgems.com and a relaunch of my shop on Zibbet is on the way. And are you ready???…. Patterns. I am working on two crochet patterns. Both that I plan to release in March so stay tuned.

And one more thing, I am interested in a new look for Thoughtful Gems. So please put any suggestions for an updated logo / banner in your comments.  I cannot wait to see them.

Until next time….

 

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Craft Show

This year was my second jaunt over to Chambersburgh, PA for the best craft show ever. I Heart Handmade Market is a handmade only craft show that was founded by the greatest promoter ever, Angel.

After driving 200 miles and about 3 hours sleep, I set up my table.

Craft Show Table

I almost sold out of the organic cotton face scrubbies again this year.  I took out my crochet hook and yarn so I could crochet more.

I had fun creating new items that are not in my online or Etsy shops and I am already thinking about next year.  Thank you, Angel!

If you want to see more of my craft show prep, follow me on Instagram.

 

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Open & Honest> I personally think Craftsy is great and provide links as an added resource. However, please note that some of the links in the post above or the comments below are affiliate links which means if you click on the link & purchase something, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Craftsy Free Online Craft Classes

As some of you may know, I put my Etsy shop on vacation for the first time since it’s been open. But I’m crafty and I’m not creating. So, I decided to take advantage of a free online Craftsy course.

What’s Craftsy? It’s a great site that has all types of sewing, quilting, crocheting, knitting and just plain crafty tutorials. Some of the online craft courses are free while others are not.  The list of online craft tutorials / courses that I want to take is long. With a few extra “seconds’ available, I decided to try the FREE Bag-Making Basics class. Honestly, I can sew a drawstring bag without a pattern, but I wanted to see if there were any sewing tips that I could learn. Let’s face it… the class is free so why not listen.

Craftsy Logo

I listened to her explanation which was a little slow paced for me so I zipped over to the instructions / pattern. You can buy a kit that includes the fabric, but if you remember my post about upcycling fabric scraps then you know that I have A LOT of fabric so I just need to search through my stash.

Well, I don’t have a finished drawstring or bucket bag to show you now, but stay tuned to Facebook or Pinterest where you may find the finished bag sometime in the future. And my Etsy shop… Yes, it will not be in vacation mode for much longer. My crafty little hands need to stay busy.

Stop by Craftsy and browse the available classes. There are 18 free courses. My next free class may be Craftsy Mastering Zipper Techniques Class, Perfect Pizza at Home, Free Online Quilting Class or …. Well you get the picture, I’m hooked on Craftsy and I haven’t even mentioned the Crocheting, Embroidery, Paper Crafts, Knitting, Jewelry classes … I need more crafting time! Take a peek at the Craftsy courses and let me know what you think in the comments.

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Open & Honest> I personally think Craftsy is great and provide links as an added resource. However, please note that some of the links in the post above are affiliate links which means if you click on the link & purchase something, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Recycled Magazine Envelopes

Here’s the story… I used to sell a certain company’s stamps and related products.  When I stopped, I found myself with a stack of colorful catalogues.  I could not toss them into the recycle bin and definitely could not put them into the trash. So I packed them away while I waited for that creative idea to surface.  Almost 4 years later… an idea!

Upcycled Magazine Envelope

We recently switch vendors for our padded envelopes.  Big decision because we are always looking to for eco-friendly packaging. Our new envelopes are waterproof so that eliminated the need to put items into protective bags before shipping.  But what was I going to put my recycled card stock paper tags to keep them together and safe in our new padded envelopes.

Yes, you guessed it… recycled magazine envelopes.  In my case, I used brand new sheets from the catalogues, punched holes on each side and used my hemp yarn to tie it together.  Easy peasy and the tags are neatly in their new envelope which I can insert into my new waterproof, biodegradable padded envelopes.

Do you have any colorful magazines or catalogues that are waiting to be upcycled into an envelope? Neatly tear or cut the page out.  If necessary, cut the page to the desired size.  Then fold the bottom up about 2/3 rd of the page.  Turn the top down so it overlaps and then punch holes on the left and right.  You then can use ribbon, yarn or twine to thread through holes and tie to close.

I’m always looking for new ways to create and reuse.  Do you have any ideas?  Feel free to share them in the comments.

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Open & Honest> I personally think my new biodegradable envelopes are great and provide links as an added resource. However, please note that some of the links in the post above are affiliate links which means if you click on the link & purchase something, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Upcycling: Sewing Scraps

We don’t buy paper napkins.  In our quest to decrease our paper usage, paper napkins were removed from our monthly grocery list with me promising to sew fabric napkins….. But, I could not settle on fabric.  So during my period of indecision, we had greasy hands and dirty  faces…. until I purchased a seamstress’ scrap fabric.  Combined with the organic cotton crib sheet that I will not need anytime soon, I was ready to attack this easy, but neglected project.  Now it felt like the possibilities were endless and I finally sewed a few sets.  Here is one of my smaller napkins which are perfect for little mouths.  They are double sided with one of the sides being organic cotton.

DC90F65A-7AF6-11E2-8BEE-99DCBDDB058C

 

I feel good about this project because I was able to repurpose scraps into something useful.  Practical upcycling!  Anything in your home or office that can be repurposed / upcycled into something new.

Book Review: the Right – Brain Business Plan Part I

Your business is a few years old… why a business plan now?  One simple answer… change is essential to growth.  Thoughtful Gems is changing … adding new products, services and programs while discontinuing others that I just don’t embrace any longer.  I’m excited to soon be offering patterns and more eco crafting supplies.  In addition, we will be launching a line of eco gift products, home decor items and DIY kits.  Our Eco Bath and Home Collection is expanding and will soon include handmade soap. Its an exciting time, but to be successful, I need a plan.

Yes, I typed a few things, but I realized that I needed to dust off my original plans and develop a brand spanking new and improved business plan.  <Groan> I’ve been avoiding the idea of a new business plan because it’s boring and creating new items is more fun.  But I decided it was time.  I know I am not the only one that either needs to update their business plan or write their first so I am going to step through the process and write about it here.  So this is when I introduce to you… The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success by Jennifer Lee.  It was written for us creative types.

The first thing that got my attention is that she introduced new methods to display the business plan, from vision boards to transforming a children’s picture book.  That visual immediately eliminated my idea of grabbing another boring black binder and forging ahead.  Instead, I am thinking of how can I best portray my vision so that it will be useful and accessible.

Throughout the book are inspiring tidbits which I find very interesting.  Of course, I reviewed the back of the book early in the process and found a great list of resources.  The meat and potatoes of this book is only approximately 200 pages with images throughout.

So far, I am enjoying the book.  Stay tuned for Part II of my review of  The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success in which I will provide a more detailed review of Chapters 2 – 8 where the vision comes alive and lands on paper resulting in a business plan.

Have you already read the book, know someone who has or interested in developing / updating a business plan?  Let me know in the comments.

 

Open & Honest> I personally think the book is great and provide links as an added resource. However, please note that some of the links in the post above are affiliate links which means if you click on the link & purchase something, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Why Organic Cotton?

So what’s the big deal about organic cotton?  Is it worth the cost?  Is this some type of gimmick?  Why is conventionally grown (non-organic) cotton called the dirtiest crop?

ColorGrownSampleCardA1

I have the answers!  We are hearing more and more about organic cotton because consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the problems associated with conventionally grown cotton, demand is increasing for organic items and big name designers & stores are starting to offer organic cotton options.

Growing non-organic (conventionally grown) cotton requires more insecticides than any other single major crop.  Does that mean that I threw out everything in our home that was made from non-organic cotton?  Absolutely NOT!  But I am more careful with new purchases.  I choose organic cotton yarn over non-organic, hemp instead of cotton and watch what I use on & close to my skin.

Organic Bath Collection

The Organic Trade Association is a great source of information.  And a quick search on the term, “organic cotton”, yields a lot of information.  If you sew, there are great organic cotton  fabric and thread suppliers.  Do you knit?  More and more yarn companies are offering organic cotton options.  Are you buying a new baby gift?  The selections for organic cotton baby apparel and toys seem to be endless.

Have you seen any organic cotton items that you were tempted to try… sheets, towels, clothing, etc.?

Simple Glass Mason Jar Cover Crochet Pattern

This free crochet pattern for glass jar covers actually came out of my desire to reuse my brown vitamin jars.  The jars seemed much too nice to toss into the recycle bin so I kept them …. all of them.  I was just waiting for an idea of how to reuse them.

I had an aha moment and decided to crochet a cover for my vitamin bottles and use one to hold my knitting needles.  Now here is aha moment #2… I realized that the pattern could also be used to cover 12 ounce mason jars.  Below you will find the crochet pattern.

Mason Jar Cover Crochet Pattern

Don’t crochet?  No problem.  Find a piece of fabric, cut it to size, cover the mason jar and then use a pretty ribbon to tie it securely.

Decorated mason jars are a gift within a gift.  Use them to store dry soup mix, homemade hot cocoa, sweet smelling lavender sachets and more.

 

Simple Glass Mason Jar Cover Crochet Pattern

The cover is designed for a 12 ounce Mason Jar, but can be easily adjusted for larger size mason jars.

YOU WILL NEED

Yarn (Approx. 65 yards)

Crochet Hooks

  • US G (4.o mm)
  • US I (5.5 mm)
  • US C (2.75 mm)

Stitches Used (US Terminology)

  • ch (chain)
  • hdc (half double crochet)
  • dc (double crochet)
  • sc (single crochet)
  • sl st (slip stitch)

 

Cover

With G Hook, ch 3

Round 1: 10 hdc in first chain: 10 hdc

Round 2: 2 dc in each hdc around: 20 dc

Round 3: (2 dc in  next dc, dc in next dc) around: 30 dc

Round 4: dc in each dc: 30 dc

Change to I Hook

With I Hook …

Rounds 5 – 15:  dc in each dc around: 30 dc

Round 16: sc in each dc around: 30 sc

Finish Off

 

Ribbon

With C Hook, ch 96, sl st in each ch

Finish off and lace into the bottle cover

Any questions?  If so, then please include them in your comment below.  I would be more than happy to help you.