Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Barclay Hunting Tartan & a new tool for Nutfield Weaver

Hello, friends.

I am really excited about a new purchase that I made recently to help me with drafting and pattern organizing. I am the proud owner of "Fiberworks" weaving software, Bronze edition. Woo hoo!

It will take some time to work through the user manual and to understand more of what the software program allows one to do. But so far, I am really pleased with the drafting ability (my version allows designs up to 8 shafts), color variations, and especially the "notes" page that is available for each design. (I use the notes to indicate length of warp, yarn sources, width of warp in the reed, etc...).

Here's a photo of my latest design for a gentleman's scarf in Barclay Hunting tartan:

It is a really nifty piece of software! I am determined to eliminate the loose sheets of paper that are filled with doodles and numbers and cluttering up my desk. In truth, I'm still using graph paper and colored pencils to start working on a design; the software program is helping to keep these drawings organized and, hopefully, permanently accessible.

I am looking forward to starting on the gentleman's scarves using the Barclay Hunting tartan design. I've ordered some alpaca/silk blend yarns for the project.

Do any of my weaving friends use weaving software? If so, please consider offering any insights that you have in the "comments" section below!

Be well,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Migrating from Etsy, Part 2

Hello, friends. Here is the next bit of chatter about my experience in moving away from the Etsy selling platform, which I have used since 2008. My new site, Nutfield Weaver, is hosted by IndieMade and is about 6 weeks old now.

I have been watching Google Analytics reports carefully and am pleased that there has been steady traffic and that visitors have come from a variety of places, including Japan, Denmark, Brazil, etc... There is about a 50/50 split between new and returning visitors. Many of the visitors are stopping in on their mobile devices, which seems interesting.

In this post I'll write about how I've been spreading the word about my shop. There are basically two ways that I've worked on this and they can be broken down into two methods: hard copy & online.

Let's tackle the "hard copy" version first.....

I updated every single piece of paper/business card/sticker that left my shop as soon as my site was up and running. This included:

  1. Business cards (I actually created new ones using the same tree and font used on my site).
  2. My "Caring for Handwoven Items" card. Since I enclose a tag with laundering/care instructions with all of my pieces, I made sure that my new website URL was clearly indicated on these.
  3. Stickers for the boxes in which I package fiber jewelry.
  4. Square 1.5" labels for ornaments, greeting cards, bookmarks.
  5. Thank you notes to clients.
  6. Shopping bag labels for artisan fairs.
  7. "Upcoming events" business-cards that I distribute to people who visit my booth and inquire about future events/locations. I also include one of these with every purchase.
  8. I'm sure there is something else that I just can't remember! 
In short, I went through a lot of printer ink! But I did not pitch my old business cards; they make really handy cards for labeling warp chains. (I am the only one who forgets how long a warp is, what is intended to be, and how many threads are in it? Maybe. I sometimes wind warps as a way to relax...)

Onto the online part of the puzzle. Here's what I did:

  1. Updated all social media accounts with my new URL including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  2. Made sure that my e-newsletter reflected the new links. (Did you know that I issue an electronic newsletter? No? Click on the red envelope social media button on the right hand side of the page to sign up for your copy!)
  3. Changed my shop information on my blog.
  4. Used Facebook to highlight new additions to my shop page. For example, when I had a new photo gallery ready, I would send out a status update about it. I really tried not to overdo this. I should hate to become tiresome.
  5. The IndieMade templates allow for extensive social media sharing buttons for each item and for pages, so I made sure to include those. Here's an example:

This photo came through a little small, but you can see the "Share" and the avenues that allow this to happen (i.e. Blogger, email, FB, Pinterest, Twitter, and the "Share This" button, which allows you to post on loads of social media sites. Speaking of the "Share This" button, I set this account up so that it could be available as an option. It is sort of neat. Click here to find out more =====> "Share This."

There is still more to do, obviously. I have not yet created a new QR code for my shop but hope to get this finished before the December 8th show at LaBelle Winery

I did celebrate several sales since my first one earlier this week, so I am confident that the site will continue to build momentum. 

Time to make dinner! Chicken corn chowder and crusty bread tonight. 
Be well,
Kate K. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Christmas ornaments & good news

Hello, friends.

Good news! I celebrated my first sale on Nutfield Weaver last night. A red plaid table runner will be headed out to Washington State tomorrow. So, after a month of being "live," it was very rewarding to know that the site has a shopping cart that works! I plan to write a bit more about migrating from Etsy toward the end of this week -- something about how I've been promoting the new site.

On Saturday, November 16th, I will be exhibiting in Salem, New Hampshire (just north of Methuen, Massachusetts) at the Annual Village Craft Fair, held at First Congregational Church. This event has been held for many, many years, and I am looking forward to participating.

I'm bringing along table runners, notecards, scarves, towels, and, for the first time, a few holiday ornaments. Here is an example of one that I put together yesterday:

This is MacQuarrie tartan, woven from mercerized cotton in red and green. I think it has a Christmas-y look about it. Earlier today I finished weaving an 8 shaft "fancy" twill and will turn these into ornaments, too.

Snowflakes! (Can you see them?)

I put together a little festive hang tag for the ornaments which, along with the requisite price information, contains an explanation of each fabric's pattern. If you'd like to see what I did, drop me a note in the comment section and I'd be happy to share. I think that they'd make nice gift tags for just about any handwoven item -- and gift-giving is upon us!

Be well,
Kate K. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Holiday table runners

Hello, friends.

I have a few shows coming up in November and December (click right here for the calendar) and have been working on getting a few table runners ready. The huck lace runners are always popular, and so are the farmhouse plaid table runners. I just finished a few of these red runners:

and these forest green / hunter green table runners are in process on the loom:

I plan to have these ready for finishing by the end of this week. And then I'll be working on some custom fingertip towels for a returning client. Yay!

And now for a little bit of non-weaving related chatter... I have become somewhat obsessed with houseplants lately. I have never had much luck with houseplants despite the fact that I have a fair amount of (successful) outdoor gardening experience. If any of my readers would care to offer their favorite houseplant varieties or tips on care, I would love to hear them. So far I have had the most luck with pathos, rex begonia, and my lime tree and rosemary plants (brought in for the winter) are still alive. We also have a few succulents and cacti that have been around since our family trip out West. I purchased a $1.97 spider plant from Home Depot yesterday. It was horribly root-bound but hopefully will enjoy its roomier surroundings. I potted up an amaryllis late last week, too. Yesterday I read about humidity trays, but am a little hesitant to try anything too adventurous just yet (I had to discard an ivy plant and that set my confidence back a bit). 

Have a lovely day, all.
Be well,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Migrating from Etsy, Part One

Hello, friends.

Thanks to all who read and commented on my previous post about my decision to separate from Etsy as my primary selling venue. I've been working on setting up an independent website now for about one month. I'll be sharing some of the things that I've learned and worked on along the way.

Three ways to let the world know that you have something for sale

There are many ways to set up a shopping feature on a website. For simplicity's sake, I boiled the options down to three (there is a fourth option - coding your own site from scratch - but this wasn't a possibility for me).

1). You can rig a blog to accept Paypal payments for your items. (I did this a while back on this blog for my sewing patterns). This option didn't seem like a good one for me because I wanted to have multiple photos of my items. It was also not obvious to me how "searchable" items would be on Google. If you have just a few things that you're interested in selling, this might be a good way to go.

2) There are free eCommerce sites that allow you to set up a page on your blog (or link it onto your blog). I didn't investigate this option very much because many of the free eCommerce sites appear to work with WordPress, and I don't use WordPress. Some examples of free eCommerce sites include BigCommerce and Shopify. Since I don't have a lot of HTML coding experience, I was a little reluctant to go the free route.

3) Pay for a site. This was the route I decided to go. I looked a variety of website providers. GoDaddy, 1and1, and Amazon offer these services. I decided to go with a smaller company, though, IndieMade. I reviewed the features available and found that they offered a lot of what I was looking for -- and all within my budget.

Why I am pleased with IndieMade so far:
* You can export your Etsy listings into your new site. There is a fair amount of editing required, but it is       a time-saver.
* It has features on it that I wanted to highlight (a good calendar for events, photo galleries).
* The FAQ page is very thorough.
* It was easy to set up social media sharing links on my pages and individual listings.
* There is a nice variety of page templates (I can change the look of my site without doing too much coding).
* I've only had to contact the help center once and the folks at IndieMade were quick to respond.
* I'm paying $12.95 per month after a free 30 day trial. With my plan I can have up to 100 items in my shop.

I spent quite a few hours investigating the options but I am happy with my new provider so far. And Google Analytics reports are encouraging: I've been getting visitors on a regular basis and they are clicking and staying on the site for a while. It is still too early to tell if the move will have been a prudent one overall, but you have to start somewhere, right?

If you have any specific questions about my "migration," please feel free to let me know. I'm NOT an expert, but I'd be happy to share what I've learned so far with you. I plan to share some of how I've been spreading the word about my new shop site in one of next week's posts.

Be well,