Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Shopping Challenge: 140 "Shops" in 20 Minutes

submitted by Amanda Fisher, Verabelle

We're always sharing photos with you of our members behind booths at craft shows, festivals, and events. But have you ever wondered what it's like from the other side of the table?

Summer is the time for craft fairs, and this past month, I've sold at two, with one more on the schedule. And many of my fellow Crown Town crafters have also been there, behind the booths. Yes, there's weeks on end of prepping, making, planning, crafting tags and packaging. There's packing up the car (my vote for the worst activity - goodness, will it all fit?!), hauling heavy things to your spot, set-up, take-down, packing up the car (again!), and unloading (sometimes a week later - we're all guilty).

But there's nothing that beats the rush you get from having all your handmade wares out in the community for people to see and ooooh and ahhhh over. For just one little day, or even a few hours, it's like having your own store complete with displays and the fine details - just a taste of something we all dream about. It's also very helpful to sit back and watch shoppers' reactions, to see in person what works, what doesn't and best of all, what products people get absolutely giddy over.

But the hardest part (aside from packing up the car), is looking out from behind the booth, hands outstretched, wanting to touch and try on all the other little doo-dads and handmade what-nots that aren't yours. And the alarm: they're here, for one time only! We want to get out there and get giddy over handmade too!

A few weeks ago, I was selling at Asheville's biannual fair, The Big Crafty. This event had over 140 indie crafters. They were spread inside and out, in every nook and cranny of the Asheville Art Museum. Just from looking across the pavement, if I had a couple of hours and a wallet full of cash, I knew there would be trouble.

My birthday and holiday shopping lists were in my purse, ready to go, and a promise several years old of giving as many gifts of the homemade, handmade, or secondhand variety as possible. What better place to mark a few people off than at a maker's fair with the highest concentration of cool stuff I had ever seen?

The dilema: my boyfriend and booth-mate, Paul, thinks he really sucks at selling women's clothing and that it's totally obvious that he had no part in making the things at my booth. He gets anxious being left there for too long. So I waited... I knew the slow time would come, and then I could pounce.

After lots of wonderful sales to some lovely people, the cash in my pocket was getting hot. A rain shower drove some of the shoppers back indoors, and I saw my moment... Paul was well-supplied with instructions, had already given the credit card machine a few swipes, kind of knew how to tie a bow on a package, and if nothing else, he had his cell phone to call in case of emergency. Wallet and list in hand, I was off!

I have never shopped so quickly in all my life. Over 140 booths in about 20 minutes. How I did it, I'll never know. There was no lingering, no long and meaningful conversations with my fellow makers, just pure purchasing power! I made some of the quickest shopping decisions of my life. Object in hand, there was only one question: "Do I want it? Decide now!"

My twenty-minute shopping marathon was successful. I came back with a holiday gift for Paul, birthday gifts for two friends, a letterpressed postcard to send my friend in Wyoming, and a little gift for myself! I can only share the shop links to some of these, because I can't give away any surprises, but you can see a photo of the cute headband, and my button-ring from my series of 10-minute shopping sprints at this month's Crafty Feast in Columbia. And please, if you were at a craft fair recently, share your finds with us, so that I(we)can live vicariously.

Shop Stops

Sew She Sews http://www.soshesews.etsy.com

Mood Swing http://moodswingstudio.com

Ragamuffin Press http://www.ragamuffinpress.etsy.com

Finkelstein's Center http://www.finkelsteins.etsy.com

Token Emotion http://www.TokenEmotion.etsy.com

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Review

submitted by Melissa Terry, Mason and Virgina

Stitch’N Bitch Crochet –The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller

I am an avid crocheter, and love to talk to people about crochet. The most common response when talking to someone who has tried crocheting is “I am having a hard time getting it, the book I have is so confusing.” So, when I come across a product or an idea that is life changing, I can’t help but want to share! Time for me to interject my life changing experience with 
Stitch’ N Bitch Crochet; The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller.

I had been crocheting for about 7 years when I bought this book.  I had taught myself how to crochet by reading various pamphlets and beginners books, which meant I was able to get the basic concepts, but when it came to little details I was lost.  I came across the Happy Hooker at the library and checked it out 3 or 4 times before I finally broke down and bought it.  The information it gives in unlike any other crochet book.

This book is wonderful at illustrating the basics of crochet, with helpful drawings and funny headings such as “Secrets of the Yarn-Yarn Sisterhood” and “I Like Big Buttons and I Cannot Lie.”  It has easy to read charts that give you a quick references for yarn weights, stitch abbreviations and how many stitches to put in your turning chain...something I have always had trouble with!

One of the other great aspects of this books is the collection of modern crochet patterns within.  While Debbie Stoller is the author of this book, you will find that the patterns in this book are an assortment of unique items by various crochet artists, everything from bags and hats to a crocheted bikini and twine doormats. 

This past fall my boyfriend asked me if I could make a baby hat for his friend’s new daughter.  I had never attempted a hat, so I flipped open the Happy Hooker and found a great pattern for an earflap hat.  The hat went over so well that it pushed me to finally begin selling my crochet work. 
I believe that you will find that this book is well worth the price.  It is packed full of 40 original patterns and easy to understand instructions.  Knitters, you aren't forgotten! Check out Stoller’s Stitch N’ Bitch Nation; The Knitter’s Handbook. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Make-Out Update

The Make-Out session The Tie that Binds will still be held this week, July 22 at 7:30 pm, even though they are normally held the last Thursday of the month.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Tie that Binds

Nikki Mueller of Not Made in China is leading a session July 22, 2010, on Japanese book binding. Please join us! We will have supplies, but feel free to bring your own paper/pages for your book. What is Japanese bookbinding, you ask? The simplest answer is pages bound/tied together with string. See, not scary. Now, what kind of pages? Here's a few ideas to jumpstart your creativity:

-why not make pages for an entire 'zine ahead of time and bind it at our session?
-finally gather up all those torn out pages and family recipes you have laying around that just move from pile to pile
-bring prints of your paintings and make your very own art book
-gift idea alert! Make a blank book to use as a journal

Take a look at Nikki's blog to see a book she made in the past:

The usual info: 7:30 pm, free admission, optional BYOB, $5 corking fee per container/6 pack. Sodas for sale. Patchwerk Playhaus, in the back room of Century Vintage, 1508 Central Avenue, Charlotte, 28205.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Keep your chin up

In honor of craft show season, here's a link to an article on Festival Network Online by own of our own, Sarah Terry of Stitch Machine, reminding us to keep things in perspective.