Working On… And First Customer

Today, or more accurately, yesterday I had my first customer. When I checked my inbox this morning there was an email telling me one of my patterns had been sold. Happy dance!

After I delivered the pattern I spent most of the morning playing around with the content of this blog. Particularly with the sidebars trying to make it easier to find the content. I am now almost happy with the layout.

I also took the time to finally create a twitter account for Chanda Belle.

Now its time to get back to designing and stitching on any of the following designs:

I may well have too many pieces on the drawing board… Time to finish and release a few of them!

12 TIPs: 2nd hand clothes for toddlers

The seasons are changing and my toddler Ila is growing. It is time for another wardrobe update.

Ila goes to the kindergarden full-time. The kids spend a lot of time outdoors playing in the garden and it is rough on her clothes. Not to mention she outgrows them so fast. I am not willing to spend a fortune on brand name clothes that can be destroyed in one day. At the same time, I like to get my girls nice stuff.

I’ve found that the 2nd hand clothes markets are great for getting lots of good quality items for a low price, then I go out and get some nice new stuff as well. Today we spent 45 minutes at one such clothes market, would have been quicker but I took Ila along.

This is what we got:

  • 3 long sleeve red tops (1 top not visible in pic)
  • 3 dresses for winter(1 dress not visible in pic)
  • 1 stripy top with gnome hood (very cute)
  • 2 short sleeve tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 knitted jumper (with fringe, its a bit hippie)
  • 1 pair of lined jeans
  • 1 pink vest
  • 1 pair of shoes (leather inner and outer, natural rubber sole, very flexible)
  • 1 winter jacket
  • 1 wooden toy set with over 100 wooden motifs plus nails and hammers to make designs on 3 cork board plates.
  • a toy car seat that Ila selected for herself (the doll Lilly and the Panda were already ours… Ila put them in the chair when we got home)
  • a pair of soft baby cloth shoes for Lena

I spent a total of EUR68 (USD 94, AUD88.50) on all those items. The leather shoes, wooden toy and jacket were the luxuries at EUR10 each. All the rest combined was only EUR38. With the exception of the car seat, jeans and shirt, all items are good and well known brand names. Everything looks new or is actually new (with tag still on). The shoes alone are worth about EUR80 new. I estimate buying everything new we would be talking over EUR300 possibly even EUR400.

My tips for today is about how to make the most of a visit to such a market. I’ve been to a few now and have gained some experience.

This is not exactly stitching, but the savings you make can be put towards your crafts and doing more fun things with your little ones. Some of these tips would apply to any kind of shopping expedition:

  1. Know what you need before you go to such a market. For example today I wanted mostly tops, some dresses, a good pair of autumn/spring shoes and see if I could find some winter gear (shoes, jacket and a snowsuit). I wasn’t looking for any stuff for Lena, because she gets all of Ila’s stuff… plus I’ll get her a few new items for herself.
  2. Pick a set of colours and mostly stick to it (allow yourself 1 or 2 exceptions). This will ensure you end up with lots of items that can be combined into a nice looking wardrobe. For Ila I generally get mainly reds, pinks and light blue. Some purple, cream, brown, black and jeans. Today we had a big haul of reds.
  3. Decide what you are willing to get second hand. Where is your comfort level? For example, I never ever get any undergarments, toys that can’t be washed or shoes that don’t look new on the inside. For some reason that I can’t explain, I also never get any hats or beanies.
  4. Smell it! Nothing worse than coming home with something that smells fake, mouldy, etc.
  5. Feel it! Does it feel nice on your skin? What is it made from?
  6. Unless it looks new don’t buy it. No matter how cute it is!
  7. Unless you love it and can see your little one wearing it, don’t buy it. No matter how cute it is!
  8. Take a moment to review all your selections before you head for the check out. Try to take home only good quality stuff that will be loved and used. Get rid of anything you aren’t sure about.
  9. If you have your little one(s) with you: Keep an eye on them… don’t loose them. Such a market can be an overwhelming experience for them. All those people hunting down a good bargain… its scary at any age!
  10. If you have your little one(s) with you: Let them choose 1 item to take home without questioning it. Over time they’ll learn how to make good choices themselves
  11. When you get home: Wash your hands. Clean, wash and find a place to put away the new items in your home.
  12. When you get home: Find anything that is being replaced by new items and put it close to the door so you remember to take it out of your home next time you go out to recycle, sell, rubbish, give away…

We can afford to get all new stuff for our girls, but I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I also get a good feeling knowing the things I bring home will be loved and used instead of ending up in a landfill. When we are finished with them, they are donated to a charity to hopefully find new homes again.

As I type this my toddler Ila is happily sorting the wooden motifs, putting them in the carseat and a bucket. The new clothes are in the washing machine, there is a box of outgrown toddler clothes to be put in storage until they fit baby Lena. On Monday a load of clothes that no longer fit baby Lena will be placed in the charity box down the road.

Happy hunting!

Up and running again!

I’ve managed to transfer all my data from a backup to my “play” laptop. It will do nicely until we fix my main computer. In the process of transferring all the data to the laptop I’ve also started re-organizing my files. A bit of work to do there, but the new structure will give me easier access to my most used files, as well as making sure that important stuff isn’t lost. So this crash of my main computer may actually be a blessing in disguise.

Fortunately my file that lists all my design ideas and my inspirations folder were both recovered. I am extremely happy about that… Now I can get back to creating new designs.

Am I the only one that feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day? I have all these ideas and not enough time to make them reality! The process of creating a new design for me involves:

1. The idea
2. Research on the topic if needed
3. Draft sketches
4. Create a pattern
5. If specialty stitches are needed, find the right ones and learn how to stitch them
6. Stitch the piece.
7. Finish the piece and take photos

Then, if its a pattern that I want to add to my store I have 3 additional steps:
8. Correct the pattern and adjust the legend symbols to make it more readable
9. Create a chart with the pattern, legend, instructions and model picture
10. Add to store

Its all very simple… except that I need more time! I often get as far as create a pattern, and there the whole project gets put on hold until I find the time to test stitch it.

I have many patterns waiting to be stitched up and even more waiting to be charted. Its tough selecting which one to work on next… but I shouldn’t complain. Better that than to have a complete block of creativity.

Transit Van

Late last year I wondered if I would be able to chart and stitch a vehicle. I picked a Ford Transit van, which is a popular medium sized transporter here in Europe. This was the result:

Overall I am very happy with the clean look and simple lines, which do manage to convey an amazing amount of detail.

Details:

Fabric: white linen 32-count from Zweigart
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
stitches: whole and partial cross stitch, petit point, back stitch and satin stitch
Design: by Alexandra Rule

Another one bytes the dust! and TIP

Last night my main computer got slower and slower. By this morning it was very sick indeed. Constantly crashing… and sometimes it hangs at start up. The main volume isn’t always available. It looks like we need to get a new disk for it. Hopefully our data backup system will come to the rescue and I have not lost anything important.

Until we get a new disk and I have everything running again there will be no designing, at least not on the computer.

Karma was not my friend and I guess I am paying for yesterdays procrastination trip to Zweigart. The score is now:

Taxes 1 : Stitching 1

No computer did mean I spent sometime going through my paperwork. I only need to locate another 2 documents.

Given that my computer time is restricted, I’ll put the extra time towards:

  1. Finding the last 2 documents needed to file our taxes… then a lot of scanning will be needed before we sent it all in.
  2. Finishing the models for my current 2 designs under the needle.
  3. Working on some of my neglected WIPs… not quite UFOs yet but getting close.
  4. Organising my desk and shelves.

On a more positive note: a package arrived today containing some more finishing items and new skeins of DMC310. I never thought I’d ever run out of black thread!

Today’s TIP: Back up your computers!

Taxes 0 : Stitching 1

A good friend came by for a visit this morning. On impulse we took a trip to the Zweigart factory outlet. It is a wonderful place which always hurts my credit card.

This time I showed amazing self control and did not purchase any linen. Instead I got some hoops, fabric edging and mats to finish my smaller designs. The yarn will be used for some other craft project that is in the works. My only indulgence was a piece of dusty blue aida for 1 EUR. This will also be put to good use for one of my designs.

All in all it was a worthwhile trip… no unnecessary purchases. Honestly, I should have been finding those tax papers. While I wasn’t exactly stitching, this is stitching related, so the score is

Taxes 0 : Stitching 1

Now I’d best go find those papers.

Beyond Time Management and Taxes vs Stitching!

My friend Bonnie told me about AMA, the American Management Association site. Here you can find Webcasts with lectures on several management topics. The Webcasts are free to watch and listen to if you register.

Thinking I needed a change from the usual TV shows I watch while stitching, this morning I decided to listen to one while stitching on my current project. I selected Beyond Time Management, by Donald E. Wetmore. As a project manager I am always interested in ways to work more efficiently, even while on maternity leave!

As usual with such lectures, a lot of the items mentioned where common sense or I had heard about before. That can’t be helped if you’ve been managing projects professionally in one form or another for well over a dozen years. Nonetheless, I always get a little something from such lectures… and in my book if I learn something new or am reminded of something, then it was time well spent.

So here is what I got out of this one:

  1. “Vital Areas” (slides 8 to 16). I do have my own list of areas I focus on. I’ll be reviewing my list to see if I need to add or remove something. I might also prioritise the areas based on where I feel the most work is need at the moment.
  2. In slide 18, Donald talks about “Daily Planning” and provides a list of things to review and do each evening to plan the next day. I do this in an informal way, perhaps a bit more structure would help.
  3. The 7×7 Technique from slide 19 is the real gem I am taking from this lecture for myself… basically do a little something every day in each Vital area. Over a year it all adds up to a lot!
  4. There were also some tips for overcoming procrastination, including a funny mention of the 2002 movie Adaptation. I am not a big fan of Nicolas Cage or Meryl Streep, but it did sound like a funny movie. I’ve added it to my list of movies to watch – perhaps next time I am procrastinating about something.
  5. While listening to the procrastination part, I remembered that what I really need to be doing is to find the documents needed to file our tax return.

There was a lot more content in this Webcast, the items above are just the ones I took for myself. And now that I’ve procrastinated some more by writing this post, I feel that I am ready to go find those tax documents.

By the way, keeping up with my filling system is something I also procrastinate about…

Stitching is a very good procrastination task! Sadly that means no more stitching for me until I’ve found those documents. How’s that for motivation?

New Theme and Stitching

Major online time suck this weekend! I spent a fair amount of time changing the theme template on this journal, I wanted to have 3 columns so I can share lots of pictures and links. Then I figured out how to add a page for Chanda Belle to Facebook and to link it to this journal so that post updates show up.

In between family activities I also managed to select the colours for my current creation:

And I made a start on it… Here is a teaser of “Stitching”:

Needle in a Haystack

Needle in a haystack is the thought that kept going through my mind as I looked for my lost needle this past weekend. Completely ignoring my own tips for stitching with toddlers in the house I left my current project out. I was only going to be away from it for a few minutes after all. A few minutes turned into the rest of the afternoon.

As we were putting my daughter to bed I noticed that my stitching project had been messed with. A quick check detected the missing needle. Calling my daughter over I pointed at where the needle had been and asked if she knew were it was now. She helpfully told me “Gone”.

Now having confirmation that she had indeed played with it, I asked if she could find it. She helpfully looked around and found me some dog hairs on the carpet.

After I had her in bed, it was time for a more through search. Armed with a mini torchlight I searched on hands and knees around my toddlers favourite hang outs. I found many more dog hairs, a few beads and eventually I spotted the missing needle right in the middle of one of the main activity areas of our apartment. Relieved I had found the needle I promised myself to put a little bit more effort into practicing what I preach… I did only have 1 needle out and no scissors… but leaving the project out when I stopped working on it was a big no-no, not to be repeated again!