December 24, 2010

All I want for christmas... to be able to breathe through my nose.

Me & the kids have all been ill, fingers crossed the coughing will stop before the big day.

But before then, we've another big day ahead, as christmas eve is my husband's birthday.

I've only made one present this year, a Fox.  Quite a poignant one given he is on the front cover of the book.  See you in 2011!

December 14, 2010

How not to write a craft book,

I always thought that after writing a book, I would be able to offer lots of advice and words of wisdom about making the leap from craft blogger to author, but in all honesty, the best I can do is tell 2 tales of what not to do.

(my design file for all the book ideas & patterns)

Tale 1 ::  During the writing process, there are a number of deadlines that come up.  Almost a year ago, I was just finishing off the first chapter which included all the basic instructions, materials and how to's, and have previously hinted at what went wrong.  Yes, I lost it all.  Something in the region of 10,000 words.  Cue a fair amount of swearing and looking for something to kick (I think it was the bin).  On the bright side, I did feel that second time around what I wrote was much clearer and an improvement on the first draft.  Since then, the Apple Time Capsule that failed has been repaired (free of charge I might add as it was a know fault), and I now have that first copy back but haven't yet dared to read it.

Tale 2 ::  As I was heading towards what they call the package date, ie the point at which everything had to be with the publisher, it dawned on me that I was going to have to sort out posting what was months worth of handmade softies over to America to the C&T Publishing offices.  I spent an hour with the 'post mistress' in my local post office packing up the box, checking and double checking paperwork, and deciding on the safest way of posting the parcel.  It was such a relief to have got to this point with the book, I left the post office and cried.  That relief was short lived.

At about 6 o'clock that evening, I had a phone call from the main sorting office to tell me the paperwork was incomplete.  How could that be?, I spent ages asking questions and filling in forms.  Turns out the person I had relied upon knowing what they were talking about, was obviously misinformed herself.  Great.  We filled in a makeshift additional invoice over the phone, and I was told the parcel would still go via UPS and was given a tracking number.  The next morning, I contacted UPS only to be told they had no record of the parcel, and it was still with Parcelforce.  Parcelforce said it was with UPS.  For 3 days, no-one could tell me where the parcel was.  For 3 days, I thought that was it, everything had gone missing and I would miss the publishing slot.  Finally it appeared on the Parcelforce online tracking system.  In New York.  It was actually supposed to be in California.  At least it was somewhere instead of untraceable.  I got drunk when I heard from my editor that it finally arrived.

December 12, 2010

The moral of the story is...

I've used these cushions to illustrate other blog posts in the past, and this time, it's to talk about promotion.  When I began blogging in 2007, I was very keen to forge some kind of online and printed press presence for 'Lucykate Crafts...' and have to confess to having undertaken a few projects which, on reflection, I should have avoided.  One, that seemed like a good idea at the time, was off the back of an article in a UK based sewing & crafts magazine (I won't name it as the magazine has since folded). 

I was approached to write a short piece about craft blogging, and thought that it would be good to maximise this press exposure and also offer 2 giveaways.  The alarm bells should have began to ring as to whether this particular magazine and I were on the same wavelength, when I spotted some of the craft blogging article had been re-written to a point where it just didn't sound like me, the strapline of the whole piece, being something I would just never say.

The giveaways were 2 cushion covers, like the ones illustrated above.  The 2 winners, selected by the magazine, were then contacted by me to find out what wording they would like embroidered onto the cover.  However, one of the winners did not reply until a few weeks later, by which point the response I got was a very abrupt 'Where is my cushion?'.  I explained that I had been waiting for their response on the embroidery, and lets just say our working 'relationship' went downhill from there.  They, possibly assuming I was trying to get out of making the cushion cover (I wasn't, although I did try and make the point that it would have to be fitted around paid work), and me finding their attitude to be just plain rude.

It might be considered to be unprofessional of me to be talking about this here, but I have an official website which is where things remain on a more serious level, I do think the beauty of blogging is that it serves as a platform through which to be able to talk a little more candidly.  So, what's the moral of this story?  Well, I guess it's a way of saying to any other craft bloggers out there who are feeling a little lost as to how, where and when are the most effective ways to promote what you do ::

1. Think about what you are hoping to get out of any offers of promotion that come your way before committing eg, exposure, blog traffic, sales etc.
2. Research the target audience that any promotions via whatever source are going to hit, does this audience match up with your own?
3. Don't undersell yourself.  All too often, craftspeople are expected to give work and ideas away for free in return for a little exposure.  It's not a bad thing to ask 'ok, I'm expected to give you all this, but what's in it for me?' 

As for the 2 cushion covers...,

well, one of the recipients sent me a lovely note afterwards saying how much she loved it and thank you.  I (fortunately) never heard a thing from the other person again!

December 8, 2010


Have you discovered Pinterest yet?

If you haven't, then go take a peek.  For a while now I've been on the look out for a way of bookmarking images.  Tumblr didn't appeal to me as it seemed too similar to blogging.  What I wanted was something more like an online scrapbook.  Pinterest is still in it's beta phase, so to join, you send a request and wait for an email (which only takes a couple of days or so).  Once in, you create pinboards to collect images on, here's one of mine...

The 'designer aware of copyright' in me does have to admit to feeling slightly bad when pinning images as it is kind of taking without asking, but I have been making sure to credit the correct people or artist by labeling the images.  That way it keeps it more as a way of sharing inspiration than pinching ideas, ie I reckon it's ok, as long as you play nice.

As with most online communities these days, it's all about networking, so on Pinterest, you can follow others and keep up to date with what they are pinning.  Here's me if you fancy joining in!

December 1, 2010

The Christmas project round up...

Over the last few years, since I started blogging I have amassed quite a few tutorials, most are listed and linked via the tab at the top of the blog homepage.
Since it is now December, here's a quick round of of what is there for Christmas...

First, there's last years Softie Christmas Tree,

and also the Robin.

Then there's the easy peasy cotton reel holly decoration,

and finally, believe it or not, one of my most visited tutorials is the Elf hat!

I'm guessing it's so popular for the same reason I made it in the first place, costumes needed for the school christmas play.  Wonder what other reasons there could be for wearing a pair of trousers turned into an elf hat on your head?!

:: :: :: :: ::

The 'Scandinavian Stitches' blog tour giveaway winners are...

number 131 - Terri wins the book & number 26 - Dolores wins the cards.

Ladies, I will be in touch for your postal addresses.