Friday, November 30, 2007

New hat and owls and mushrooms for my 1970s kitchen

Today I devoted a little more love to my website Purplesagedesignz
When I viewed the updates on my husband's nice large flatscreen panel monitor, it somehow looked weird and off-centered whereas it looked cool on my fossil monitor. O well. I added this new striped tam.
And off-topic, I added to my owl collection, vintage genuine 1970s owl ceramic containers (and they are BIG) and mushroom containers. My kitchen is original 1970s, no granit counters (as HGTV makes as believe everyone must have:), I just recently stained the cabinets, everything else has been left as it was, sink, countertops...I love it!
(Ok my daughter will probably comment on my "weird" taste when she visits since she lives the Ikea design life). My thriftstore finds haven't really found the right place yet because I don't have much time for home decorations, but will be showcased once I have a few free hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

100% Hemp Yarn arrived

Just showing off my newest yarn order, this will guarantee great spring and summer hats, vegan suitable and all natural East European dyed hemp yarn in a very fine quality.
I am always in search of great hemp suppliers, here is where I ordered, especially interesting for hemp jewelry people.
These yarn cones contain 4 X 2400 ft. Ordered here.

Silent protest

Since the $4 and $5 socalled Handmade hats are selling undisputed along with all the other mass-produced accessories and clothing on the "Handmade sites" I will try to list more of my items on my own personal website.
I have taken a picture of a new hemp/wool hat, almost finished, a popular stripe design. As you can see each color change leaves loose ends hanging. So the actual crochet part is done, now the sewing part starts to weave in all the loose end strands. Besides the material costs (all hemp yarns are ordered online with shipping costs) a lot of labor is involved to crochet a tam.
I hate to be upset and will avoid it in future by focusing on my own selling space. I can't and I don't want to compete with Far East imports.
I would be very honored if my customers give my own site a try.
Have a great day in peace and harmony!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bagging Leaves on a sunday afternoon

Today we had a good work-out raking piles and piles of leaves and then bag them up. Since we have 1 giant tree and 5 big sized leave trees on our property (and a bunch of smaller ones) most likely this job will never get finished, but it had gotten to a point where leaves just took over our backyard. Instead of cooking a lean dinner we decided to get fast food today. I can't even recall on which diet week we are on, but it has developed into a lifestyle with little exceptions like today.
I cannot show a lot of new work today, but I finally got one of my handmuffs finished, a project which I had started some time back. I love muffs, they have such a cool vintage look. I have never been a gloves girl:)
This periwinkle, slightly elegant hand-warmer has a removable neck strap and is super soft inside with an extra layer of black crochet.
Available for sale on Etsy

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A quick show-off of new tams

I love these colors and yarns and need to show off my newest dread beanies.
Apple green and brown tam hat
El Paso Fall Dreadlock beanie
Happy weekend!

My Tips 18 - 20 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

Snow cottage oil painting borrowed from this website
I chose this painting because we had our first snow day yesterday. Today it is already gone. When I stepped outside late in afternoon I was struck by the there is a blanket of snow damping all the sounds of nature (or cars...). I looked up into the sky and there were heavy grey clouds hanging in the air. No bird singing, no dog barking, just awesome quietness. Two hours later micro-sized snowflakes were falling from the sky and despite them being tiny they covered the roofs and ground with a thick white blanket by night.

18. After I had been rather philosophical the last few days I will end my series with down-to-earth practical tips. 4 weeks till Christmas, so we probably look at 3 more weeks of holiday business unless you sell in Brick&Mortar stores until the very end. I plan on reducing my offered inventory the closer I get to Christmas because I will reward myself with a few quiet days before Christmas. Looking at a time frame of 3 more busy weeks seems manageable and gives me something to look forward to.

19. Even though I have several best-sellers I always create a few OOAK items just to please my creative soul. A new color or a new stitch design keep my craft interesting and I don't feel burnt out.

20. Random time-savers:
*clean out and fill the dish washer while cooking dinner, you are in the kitchen anyway.
*move everything to its place immediately after use
*don't get distracted and stick to one task until finished, all those little breaks add up
*print and pack in bulk and get your daily orders out in one batch
*keep your materials handy
*stay happy, life is great

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Tips 16 - 17 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

Craft Revival Image linked from this website

16. Giving thanks for my (e-) businesses Purple Sage Designz and Retro Chic Boutique is important to me. I had experienced how difficult it can be to maintain a Brick&Mortar business in Germany long before online selling was a possibility. I am grateful for my online venues and easy set-up of a business license in the USA. I also own my first home in Oklahoma and my cottage business allows to work inside this home without spending most of the day at someone else's work place. The pleasure that I get out of these opportunities can not be measured in $$$ only, but are a life style that I had visioned for a long time. I think this point of self-reflection is very appropriate today on Thanksgiving Day. And yes, the turkey breast and all side dishes were delicious, I have a cozy warm feeling inside.

17. In respect of changes made on some of my online selling venues I thought a lot about independence today. Being Indie! Own branding, self confidence in the way you conduct your business and the balancing act of watching the overall market and stay true to your own designs. Pricing, presentation and advertisement usually develop over time and we have our own comfort zone of price range, target customers and the way we feel about solicitation in social spaces. I keep my prices in the lower range because I believe that not every one is willing or able to pay over $30 for a hat. I don't live in NYC either, so my profit still puts food on our table.
I don't look at the lowest Ebay prices either, been there, done that and have moved on. Joining every online team or group just to post a link to my stores has not been beneficial either. I hate bragging,'s just not my style. I strive to stay true to myself. I am confident in my own abilities and I don't worry a whole lot about what other people do. Of course I see a lot of online selling fraud and misrepresentation going on since I am not blind. I am not indifferent, but I make my choices of where to engage with my contributions and where not. In German we have a saying ..."Don't throw pearls to the hogs".

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jim Boyd -- talk don't matter

In my search for contemporary rock I found Jim Boyd's videos on YouTube tonight. I like the straight forward lyrics. Hard to find music when you're stuck in the 70s, but musical gems are still out there.

My Tips 13 - 15 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

"Little Knitter" Image borrowed from this website

I was busy and business had been great, so I took a break from blogging, but I am back to continue my survival tips.

13. Flexibility saved me earlier this week. And it confirmed once again that you cannot write your work schedules into stone, but have to adapt to changing circumstances the best you can. On Monday I attended a funeral with my DH Sid and additionally to Sunday's sweat-lodge it took out time from crafting. Well, I made up for it by working longer at night and since DH was on vacation he helped getting my packages ready. Live life first as it comes.
If you are interested in sweat lodges, you may find this website interesting. A very good general summary of sweat lodge ceremonies.

14. Keep plenty of supplies on hand. It's not the time of the year to run back and forward to the craft store because you ran out of a certain color. On top of that you may get a different dye lot and the slightly different color usually shows in your project. If you can afford it, buy the classic colors in bulk and don't worry about it again until you are down to your last 1 or 2 skeins. I love yarn shopping, so, I don't have a problem with spending on yarn, that's weird because otherwise I am rather tight with my money:)

15. Custom orders are a great way to work with your customers, but stay realistic about how many you can take on. they always take longer than anticipated and the nice extra money may cause you more headaches and worries than joy. Take it from me, I had to ship a package with express 2 days before Christmas last year in order to fulfill my obligations. It was a lesson to be learned.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beautiful Sunday in the Oklahoman Country Side

As you can tell the vegitation undoubtly looks like late autumn, but it's nevertheless a great day outside. We are heading for Red Rock to have a sweat lodge ceremony today.
I love to be in the middle of "no-where", outdoors in nature, no mall & spa girl here.
My newest dreadlock hippie hats reflect these pretty nature colors, far away from sparkle and neon lights. Enjoy!
(they are available in my Etsy store)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My tips 10 - 12 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

Old-fashioned family wall-hanging picture borrowed from this website

Happy weekend everyone! It's Saturday afternoon and I am off to some relaxation and re-charging my batteries. But before I will head outside I'd like to share my tips, as I have discovered that it really is helpful to put my thoughts into writing and stick to them.

10. Balance your life -- You work to live, you don't live to work. A major life philosophy, so simple and yet so true.
To keep work hours and "non-work" hours is a tricky balance act especially for us working in our own cottage, because we actually never leave work as long as we are at home. So we need to create a mental barrier to set us apart from our work space.
Today my back muscles hurt because I crocheted about 10 hours yesterday. They tell me: give it a break. And I will listen, because my body is my tool, my extended equipment, longing for a rest. And my mind craves inspiration and fun. Food for future creativity.

11. Keeping a household afloat seems to be on our mind constantly, especially when there never seem to be enough hours in a day. Well, I am not a devoted "home-maker" (I don't have a better word for it), but love to keep my house organized versus pretty. I guess I focus more on practicality than show-casing. During the week I try to keep up laundry, dishes and trash-take out on a regular basis. A little time invested every day keeps the big chaos away (one of my standard wisdoms:)...and it works. No overwhelming messes. The bigger tasks like dusting or vacuum cleaning happen on the weekends. With my DH helping if possible (he works a lot of over-time himself these days).

12. Peace in the home is essential for me to work with positive vibes and in good spirits. So when the stress of making it to the post office in time or meeting other requirements gets overwhelming sometimes, a mental STOP of a calm mind will put life into perspective again. Thanking my partner for little favors, giving him a hug, having some down time when he gets of from work with a cup of coffee and small talk about our work days...goes a long way.
And on Sundays when we share our spirituality together in form of a traditional sweat lodge ceremony, it's bonding us for life. We have to make time for those we love.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Tips 7 - 9 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

Cottage industry picture borrowed from this website

First of all I would like to say I envy these women working as a team, I would love to be part of a team these days instead of working all by myself:)
There is a ton of work ahead of me so I will keep my tips sweet, short and simple today.

4. Don't sacrifice your sleep unless your life depends on it. I find it hard to unwind if I crochet right until bedtime, I need some down time to relax and get work off my mind. At 8 pm my pc is turned off and my work roomed is closed. The best way to relax is to stretch out on the couch, lay down and watch "Law & Order" may have a different preference, whatever works best. Extended work hours lead to bad concentration, mistakes and having to redo the creations may be the worst scenario.

5. Take advantage of odd shopping hours. Locations like Walmart or Walgreens e.g. are open 24 hours a day and it's smart to avoid them when the kids get out of school or on the week-ends when people get off from work. If you have the chance to go shopping at 7 am, do so, and grab all your necessities at once. BTW I live in a small town and Walmart is the only place of its size for a one-stop shopping experience, so, some people don't have a choice to avoid places like that. Just wanted to say....:)

6. Be proud of your achievements. My revenue is by far not comparable to the kind of income I could have if I went to work for a company/organization. My son always says I could make so much more money with my college education and skills outside of my home. True, but money is not all. I make items with my own hands, derived from my own ideas, market them and sell them to buyers. An atom business that works, so I feel proud of myself every single day. And my DH does, too. It took a while to establish his recognition, but since he plans to venture into a digital art business himself, he came to realize what hard work and persistence is involved to sell and market online.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My tips 4 - 6 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

(Picture of seamstress borrowed from this website)
Good morning, it's 8 am and I am off to a new day. Yesterday I reflected on mental preparation, supply stock and taking care of our health. More ideas:

4. Social Networking, well, if you have enough orders already you may just want to cut back on it in order to save time. A blog is actually a wonderful tool to accumulate all your news, thoughts or even write down your own schedule as a to-do list. Share your new items (with lots of keywords so that potential buyers will find you on Google) and direct friends to your blog to catch up on your life. And if you love forums as much as I do, just take 30 minutes every evening to hang out in there when your work is done. As a reward for all your discipline during the day. As opposed to waste time during the day.

5. Multi tasking, oh don't we all just hate that word. But it can benefit us when done right. I don't believe in doing 3 things at one time, but 3 things one after the other without wasting time in between. Thanks to my wonderful international buyers I go a lot to the post office these days. So I like to combine my chores while running around. Post office, bank, pick up a few fresh groceries if needed, stop at the general store for printing paper (if there is a sign of getting low on every day staples). And one thing I actually enjoy is turning up the volume of my favorite oldies station (classic rock and soul) and jam and sing along while driving.

6. Organization, well this could fill pages, but a few simple tricks help us break down our chores for the day. I always print out every invoice immediately as soon as I receive the payment for an order. They have a place next to my pc. Every morning I work on these first. I pack up sold items for the post office and whatever is paid after my items are packed/shipped, will go into the pile for the following day. That way I get a feeling of accomplishment. A stopping point like the work whistle blows at a plant. Mission accomplished. Grab a caffe latte and enjoy this time of the day with your feet up, go onto the patio or watch the news. When we don't have a set schedule (and thank goodness there is no boss other than ourselves), we need to create our own schedule. There has to be a starting point and a finish line for every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Tips 1 - 3 (of 20) to survive the holiday rush of a cottage industry

Cottage Industry Picture borrowed from this website

It's my sense of humor to relate to myself as a cottage industry these days. My main products are hats, so it's just natural that fall and winter (including Christmas of course) are my busiest months.
It's a learning process to adapt to a lot of work and stress, and I do better each year. Here is how I manage:

1. Prepare yourself mentally that this 4th quarter of the year is going to be busy and hectic. But also your main biz months, so, just get used to the thought of less spare time and more work hours ahead of time. Let your family and friends know and don't plan major house renovations.

2. Take advantage of buying in bulk, sales and wholesale. If you find supplies online at a great price, go ahead and order. It saves you time running all over town among Christmas shoppers.
Have your packing supplies, tape and biz cards prepared.

3. Don't neglect healthy food and'll need a lot of energy but don't want to feel weighed down by too much comfort food.
Lots of water, green tea, apple juice mixed with water and tea, a great pot of coffee in the morning. Peanuts (unsalted and dry roasted) contain a lot of lecithin for your nerves, but a handful will do. a delicious apple as dessert. whole grains in bread and cereals. Soy drinks or milk. Low fat cheeses and lunch meats. Fast pasta and tomato sauce dinners are nutritious and save you time in the kitchen.

To be continued...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Hippie Tam Pattern and how custom orders work

Today I would like to share a pattern for a longer hippie dreadlock tam, free to use for your personal hat projects. If you crochet hats for sale you may already know how to do it and I kindly ask you to incorporate your own stitch variations and imagination.
Here we go: wool blend yarn (chunky) and crochet hook size K
Chain 4 and join with sling stitch.
round 1: chain 3 (= 1 double crochet) and crochet 15 additional double crochet stitches (dc) into this ring, join with sling stitch (do this at the end of every row). You have 16 dc.

Round 2: Now we crochet 2 dc in each dc (=32 dc)

Round 3: *We skip 1 dc, make a chain, dc twice in next dc*, continue until the end

round 4: we crochet 1 dc in each space, also between the 2 dc, don't forget the chain after each dc
round 5: in order to increase we crochet 2 dc into each 2nd space

round 6 (final row of crown): 1 dc into each space, don't forget the chain stitches;)

For my tam I have reached the maximum width that I want to achieve, so now I will keep up this crochet pattern. The only thing to pay attention to is the end of the round. You need to keep the 1st dc and last dc in an alternating pattern, shown here.
showing it once again after a few rows:

I usually crochet up to a length of 11", a median which should work for most hair styles, make it at least 12" for someone with long thick dreadlocks.
You can use half-double loops for the final row and lace a tie-string through it.

Now a few comments on custom orders. On Ebay I sometimes receive the question if I make all my hats by myself. Yep, I do.
On my website and sometimes on Etsy I also accept custom orders.
I am always open for using your color choices, or even change the design.
Before I will mail out to the customer I always take a picture before weaving in the loose ends.
That way I can make final alterations if needed.
Here is a custom that I made for a buyer on Etsy.

It was too windy to take pictures outside, and I have to admit, I don't want to go back to indoor pictures. How dull! This hat doesn't have a tie-string yet which will keep the weight of the hair at the back of the head instead of pulling down the hat in the back (as it appears in this picture since there is no tie-string yet).

Anyway, I hope I was of some help regarding a simple crown pattern for a dreadlock tam and showing a dreadlock tam in progress.
Happy crocheting!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Indian Summer -- Too beautiful to hang around the pc

It's a gorgeous day. It literally pulls me outside. Time to tackle leaves and enjoy the November sun. Our Oscar warms his black coat and is bouncing when I play with him in the yard.
I have finished a chili red tam. A great fall color, just so hard to take pictures of it. It fits right into my desire for rich full nature colors. And I adore chili spices:)
Dinner is awaiting us at our favorite Chinese buffet -- the best seafood and traditional dishes in town, at a price that makes you hum. It's a reward for being on diet week 3. Sid and I dropped both a size and we feel great.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Night Music 2 by Dido -- Thank you

Night Music by Rosenstolz -- Lass es Liebe sein

Buying for a little girl is just fun

So I got up this morning and dreaded my dentist appointment, but went after all. I am so glad that I did because I completed my scheduled dentist work for 2007. More work will be done in 2008, but I got almost all of my major problems taken care of.
So on my way home I stopped at the store and was looking around for a gift for my sponsor child through the "Crafting with A Cause" group and fell in love with this Christmas bear. Hmmm, I am no grandma yet, but I get a bit of the taste I guess. It must be so cool to go shopping for a little girl or boy (pardon, boys are cool, too).
Now that I was already on the roll of getting things done, I even got a haircut. I am so happy I look like myself again:) To top it off, I managed to buy my yarn supply today as well (I usually do this Fridays) and have mailed all my packages. Yeah.
I have also finished a new pretty chili red tam, but I didn't have enough light left to take decent pictures. This will be on my to do list tomorrow, but sometimes a day turns out so much better than expected. I didn't believe it would be a good day at 6 am, but at 6 pm I am kicking back and will have a delicious bowl of chili and just relax.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pleasurable Coffee Break -- Featured on blog and music

So I just found I am featured on a big blog, oh my, that's so cool.
Thanks so much, Gimla!
An awesome blog about HAIR.
And here is the feature of several tam sellers on Etsy.
While I sip my caffe latte I listen to Xavier Naidoo. There has never been a German artist who makes the German language sound so beautiful, and his lyrics are superb. Never heard any crap phrase in his music.

Sometimes I get very homesick...then I enjoy these pictures of Pressath, Bavaria

"Gruess Gott", tradtional greeting instead of "hi"everywhere in the area, means "greet the Lord"

Narrow steep streets in the old downtown area, a nightmare for large vehicles

View of the close by volcano "Rauher kulm", popular recreational target for hikers or for a coffee with a view.

No matter where you are in Pressath, the church tower is a scenic focal point

Holy Moly...Hat Season is here

I was pretty busy in October, but I have noticed that things have picked up even more in November. What a nice surprise to open my Etsy shop this morning and found a lot of my hats sold.
I will make my daily trip to the PO for international packages and my large box to Wounded Knee. I decided it will go to an elder PR lady for the Children's Project on Pine Ridge. She is a direct contact for the Crafting for a cause group and I just feel better about sending my donations to someone who is known to us crafters.
Then I will stop by at Staples, I need ink and envelopes, here and now:) No time to order online.
I will refrain from ordering online anyway since I am a bit worried about a large order for hemp wool that I placed with a website. I haven't heard anything, no acknowledging of payment or shipping notice. And I really need this hemp yarn. Crossing my fingers.
On top of it all, I really need a hair-cut, so bad, but I am so not in the mood to drive all over town all day long. And the fridge is empty, urrrghhh, when coffee and creamer are out, then it's really time to shop again, some essentials we can't live without.
Off to work.................
I just relisted this new charcoal grey hat, more beautiful fall & winter colors to come this week!
Available at my Etsy shop

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Early Saturday morning activities

My DH works overtime these days and we got up at 6.30 am like every day. I guess it's a good way of life to start the day early, so many thing you can get down if you don't sleep in.
I am caught up on my orders, everything has been shipped and there are only a few custom requests that I have already started. As I have said before, BIZ is not all. It's good to make money, sometimes it's even better to share when you've been doing fairly well.
I have signed up for the elder project since I have joined the craftingforacause yahoo group and have gotten my first package ready. Soft novelty yarn for a fellow knitter in Wanblee, SD. Now I need to finish my larger package for the Cangleska Shelter.