Sunday 31 March 2013

Book Review - "Crystal Lace Necklace Patterns" by Sanda D. Halpenny

Oh dear, another month has crept up on me and flew on by, and yet again I find myself at the end of the month with no book reviewed, which is what I pledged to do in February.

So, I did review this beading book a little while ago and posted on Bead Buddies about it.  As there was a review already in place I thought I would look it back over and add to it a little - cheating, yes, but better than having no review this month  :)

The book is Crystal Lace Necklace Patterns (Bead Weaving Technique) by Sandra D. Halpenny.

Nice looking book (I have the paperback version) with some stunning designs draped across the front.

The photography throughout is beautiful, the colour schemes they have worked make the pieces come across as expensive and elegant, if that make sense.

Throughout the book you will find the patterns getting progressively more ornate, so it's a good idea to start of with one of the ones at the front to see how you go.

Each pattern is accompanied by wonderful illustrations of how to make up the piece, as well as the written instructions.  So if your brain is a little like mine - mushy - you can refer to the pics to make things easier.

I tested the "Wedding Lace" pattern, it was fun, but quite tricky.  Usually I can grasp a pattern after a couple of repeats but I found myself having to keep going back for another look at the illustrations.

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of that one to show you as I gave it to my Mother  :)

But I can show you another pattern that I tried which was the "Butterfly Lace Necklace" - made with seed beads and Czech crystals, this is a wonderful design.  You can fiddle about with colour schemes to suit and it just looks amazingly good.

I did a blue iris version with a multitude of different coloured crystals...

and a red one....

Want a close up?

They lay beautifully on the neck and get loads of admiring glances  :)

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to have a go at bead-weaving  and even for those already adept in the craft as there are some stunning designs in it.

Have you already made something from this book?  Feel free to add links so I can go have a look  :)

Thursday 28 March 2013

Pricing your crafts for sale

Yes, this old can of worms.

I often get asked for advice on pricing, and my heart sinks.  On one hand I want to shout "Charge a proper rate, get a decent wage" but in reality any crafter will tell you that that hardly happens.

To earn a 'decent wage' you really need to establish a name for yourself.  This is the hard part.  It involves a lot of work on your part, work apart from your beloved crafting.  You need to be up on Social Networking - push that Facebook page, Tweet those Twitter updates, hover around Pintrest, post on Tumblr and of course update your blog regularly.  Shove your name and your work into peoples faces - every single day, do NOT let them forget you.  Of course, while you are busy doing that you cannot find any time to make anything.

Once you have established yourself a name and you have people hankering for your products, then the pricing gets much easier.  But for us mere mortals down here on the 'no-one knows who I am' shelf, things can be a little different.

So, for arguments sake, let's sake you want to earn £10 an hour.  It's not a great wage, it's certainly not on par with other craftspeople such as plumbers, electricians, mechanics (It's a form of craft, right?) but it's ok, it's better than minimum wage, better than delivering the local free newspaper in the rain.

You take some headpins, thread some beads on, make a loop, add to an earring wire, repeat - one nice pair of beaded earrings.  Personally that would take me less than five minutes to make.

Those five minutes however do not include sourcing the beads, making the purchase, going down to the Post Office to collect the parcel because the Posty Person was too lazy to follow the directions round to The Shed!

Now if I was working on a basis of £10 per hour, five minutes would be about 84p.
Let's look at the approximate costings:

  • 10 Swarovski Beads - 80p
  • 2 Sterling Silver Earwires - £1.50
  • 2 Sterling Silver Headpins  - 50p
  • Time - 84p
  • TOTAL = £3.64
Not bad for a pair of sterling and Swarovski Crystal earrings huh?

Imagine though if they were cheaper Chinese beads, and plated findings:
  • 10 chinese crystals - 20p
  • 2 plated earwires - 10p
  • 2 plated headpins - 6p
  • Time - 84p
  • TOTAL = £1.20
Now, THIS is what people want to pay in my experience.  It doesn't/shouldn't matter to you as you get the same amount in wages, but it does, because you want to use quality products.  Your customer will look at your prices, then go and buy the product in Primark.  Quantity not Quality in many cases I am afraid.

But these earrings of course are going to be relatively cheap, what happens when you put a lot of time into a piece?

I had a necklace on display at work, not for sale, just to showcase a class I was going to run.  A lady asked me how much it would be if I was to sell it.  My immediate thought to myself was "You will never buy it once I give you a price", I knew this, it was displayed in Hobbycraft where people come to buy their craft products, if it was displayed in an art gallery would she have dared to ask?  I think not!

This particular piece was a peyote link chain, very tactile, everyone loves holding it, but it took me 15 hours to make it - at £10 an hour that should be £150 before the price of the beads (which as is happens was only around £3.00). 

If I had have said £153 she would have had a heart attack I am sure, so doing some quick calculations in my head, which went something like this - the beads cost £3.00, time has already been spent and gone, it's hung around a long time, probably will never make another - let's say £30.  (That's under £2.00 an hour!)

I tell her it took 15 hours to make, I tell her that at £5.00 an hour (which is below minimum wage) and not including materials, it would be priced up at £75, I tell her I couldn't possibly let it go for anything lower than £30.

As predicted, she nearly died on the spot, recovered, then proceeded to tell me it wasn't worth anything like that and she thought it would be "about a fiver".

I calmly took my necklace off the display and walked away with it. (actually, I wasn't that calm :) )

One problem with under-pricing is something you might not think of until it happens to you.  You decide to sell a pretty bracelet for £10.  The material cost is relatively low, say £2.00, but it has taken you 3 hours to make it. You think, OK, it's made, let's just get some money in on it, and £8.00 profit isn't bad. 

Now imagine this, a lady picks up your bracelet, admires it loads, beautiful it is, you are grinning like a Cheshire Cat, then she says - "I would like to order 12 please. Do I get a discount?"  You agree on £9.00 a piece. Your first emotion is "WHOOPPPEEE" I got a commission, you order the beads, order the wires, sit down to work.  36 hours later you have finished, you are sick to the back teeth of seeing this blooming design, you never want to make it again, EVER !!

You deliver the goods, you get paid - £108, seems like a lot, you might order pizza tonight to celebrate  :)

Lets break it down:
  • Materials (originally £2.00 worth, but as you ordered them specially you had postage to pay) - £36
  • Time at 36 hours at minimum wage of £6 per hour - £216
  • TOTAL - £252  
  • Total Loss - £144
Gulp!  Ok, so taking your time out of the equation  you have made £72 profit on materials, but you really DO deserve to be paid you know.

Here is another example of my own.

I made a Lynn Davy special which I named Cottage Garden, took me 14 hours to make - all weekend in fact, I sent it down to my Mother-In-Law as she wanted to sell some of my stuff on a craft stall at her craft group (there was no beaders amongst the group)  I had to price everything up, and as it was close to Christmas I priced it to sell.  Except this piece, that really I didn't want to sell, I just wanted to showcase it.  I priced it at £75 thinking it would put people off.  (I did have Lynn's permission to sell it by the way, as it was her design I thought it only right to ask)

It didn't put people off, it was the first thing to sell.  Now let's work out what I made on it:
  • Materials - approx £5.00
  • Time 14 hours at £10 per hour - £140
  • TOTAL - £145
  • Sold for £75
  • Loss = £70
Looking at it another way, £75 take off the materials cost = £70, divide by 14 hours spent making it = £5.00
I actually made £5.00 an hour making that piece. Not bad I guess if you are crafting for pocket money and not to make a living.

I know crafters who have had a bit of hassle for underpricing, personally I think it's no body's business but your own deciding on what to charge.  Just because my neighbour on the next craft stall sells a similar product for less does not mean I will change my price structure.  Neither does it mean that I can give her a hard time about raising her prices (trust me, I have seen this happen) If customers want your item enough, they will buy it.  

Be confident in your prices.  Always charge on the high side if you can as it is much easier to drop your prices later if need be, rather than hike them up.  Buyers think you are being greedy if you put your prices up, not many would realise that you were actually charging too low to begin with.

Be wary of 'sales', to me they mean two things - 1: the item has hung around too long and you need rid of it, 2: you need money, fast.  Better just to quietly drop the price.

So there you have it, clear?  No, I thought not. I don't think pricing your own crafts will ever be clear.  It just needs to be something you are happy with.  Just make sure people know how many hours you put into making your stuff and if necessary ask them if they would work for £2.00 an hour - not many would, trust me!

Right, off to put some crafting time, this blog has just cost me £10 in wages  ;)

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Kidsilk Haze Stripe Scarf

I started making this scarf for a display at work.  I picked this particular wool as it is a slow seller, something, I think, to do with the price tag as it is a hefty £17.99 a ball!  Or rather, it was - as it is now in the Hobbycraft half price clearance sale.

I love this yarn so much, it is soft, gorgeous, silky, fluffy, warm and super cosy.

Knitting with it, however, was a bit of a pain.

Usually when I knit a scarf I can bash one out in an evening, or at a push over a weekend.  This one has taken about 3 weeks.  It knits up at around an inch per half hour.  And as it is around 70" long, I reckon that's about 35 hours work!!

One of the issues is that this yarn is so slinky that you cannot speed knit, if you are a bit hasty with your knitting needles then you find yourself with an empty needle and lots of dropped stitches - it just slides off.  And they are horrible to pick up, they just shrink away and you have to go and find a crochet hook to knit them all back up to the top again.

A few inches in I was desperate to go and buy a few balls and make myself a jumper, having now knit the scarf I am thinking again  :)  It would be lovely, but I know I would get bored and probably never finish it.

Still, it's a beautiful, gorgeous scarf.  If you live near Carlisle, pop into Hobbycraft and go and visit it.  It is upstairs, on the end of a display, you can even stroke it if you like  :)

Saturday 23 March 2013

Washi tape & paperclip necklace

I succumbed..... I bought Washi Tape.  Well, I bought "Decor Tape" from Hobbycraft, but it's the same thing.

Now, what to do with it?

Aha, I suddenly remembered a necklace we once made in Brownies, oh so way back, around 35 years ago perhaps.  It was a necklace made with paperclips and sticky backed plastic, or Fablon as it is now known.

Luckily I must have enjoyed making this necklace so much that I still remembered exactly how to do it.  And now I will share it with you :)

You will need:

A roll of Washi/Decor tape.
A box of smallish paperclips, just a little longer than the tape is wide.

What you do:

Take a paperclip and cut a little of the tape, wrap the tape neatly around the paperclip making sure the edge is well sealed down.

Take a second paperclip and link it to the first.

Tape it up.

Add more paperclips until if joined together the length would go over your head.

To join, add a paperclip to both ends, but not as a link as you need it to hang down if that make sense.  Tape up.

To this paperclip add three more paperclips and tape up.

Then add three more paperclips to EACH of the three paperclips, tape up.

Again, add three paperclips to EACH of the 9 paperclips, tape up.

And that's it, you have a finished paperclip and Washi tape necklace.

Friday 22 March 2013

Bargains from a charity bookshop

I have been so clever sorting out stuff to go into my new craft room, stuff I can manage without.  

So far I have sorted out a pile of books and listed them on eBay,

.... and sorted out my yarn and given a large charity bag full away to a friend for a charity blanket.

Then today, I go and browse around a charity bookshop in town and buy a whole pile of books back again !!

But at the grand price of 75p each, how could I refuse?

Let me share them with you.  First the cookery books.

The New Vegetarian Cookbook - Roz Denny.  

Lots of interesting meals in this one, I might just have to try the Broccoli Risotto Torte sometime soon.

The Accidental Vegetarian - Simon Rimmer.

This one looks fabulous, unusual recipes that seem to be right up my street.  How about some potato pancakes with spiced beetroot?

Cakes and Slices - Bay Books

Hmmmm, my mouth is just watering looking through this one, how does Caramel Peach Cake, Passionfruit Almond Cakes with Lime Glaze or these... Date Caramel Shortcake.

And right at the back is a recipe for Baklava - one of my absolute favourites.  I might be busy next week :)

I also bought some craft books, funny that eh?

The Splendid Soft Toy Book (what a great name!)

I was planning to make some soft memory toys out of old clothing and these patterns might be very well adaptable to what I have in mind.  Who could resist Olaf and Olga Troll Dolls?

Toys For Kids - Sarah Stacey.

Some cringeworthy old fashioned patterns, but again adaptable.  I am sure this little fellow could be very cute if made in the right material.

Make Your Own Teddy Bear.

A cute little book with lots of templates and a birth certificate to copy at the back :)

I bought this one for a gift for someone, I think she will like it as she is just getting into quilting.

Quilting Design Sourcebook - Dorothy Osler.

I also bought this for a gift for someone who is a practising Christian.

Children's Letters To God.

I do hope she appreciates the humour, I certainly did.

He has a good point.

Bless  :)


Thursday 21 March 2013

Hot-Cross Bun pudding

You may notice there has been a lack of crafting recently - this is due to the fact that I am working on my craft room, sorting out boxes, de-stashing my books, giving away some yarn (yes, really!!) and asking myself "will I ever use this?"  Every spare hour has been put into working through many different hidey holes trying to rediscover stuff I have hidden away over the years.

I still have time to make food though and thought I would share this yummy, scrummy, ever-so-naughty pudding with you.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding.

You will need:

  • 6 hot cross buns
  • jar of apricot jam
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • 300ml milk
  • vanilla essence
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
What you do:

Cut the buns and add a generous amount of apricot jam to each.

Place in an overproof dish, nice and snug.

In a large jug whisk up the eggs along with the cream, milk and vanilla essence.  Add 3 tablespoons of the sugar and stir well to dissolve.

Pour the liquid mix on top of the buns, making sure you soak each top, then leave to soak for 20 minutes so the liquid soaks into the buns.

Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar and bake at gas 4 for around 40 minutes, or until the custard is set.

Nommity nom.