Friday, January 30, 2009

At Least It's Over

This has been one horrifyingly long week. There were headaches, tatting projects, secret histories revealed and for some reason an awful lot of introspection. My Grandfather was also visiting for the better part of the week from Utah and as wonderful as it is to see him and have the whole family over the stress of keeping a house normally run by two small tornadoes clean to its toll. To add a little extra something to the chaos, while trying to get a new feature on iphoto to work for me I managed to get myself locked out of my flickr account. I literally performed a graceful 'headdesk' moment and I began to give up. Still haven't figured out why the feature won't work for me on either of my computers, but at least I'm back into my flickr thanks to my much more patient husbands computer skills.

Last weeks new tatting designs appear to have appeased my muse and I was content just to remake pieces this week. Probably better given all the other events of the week took most of my energy. I do have a few new ideas swirling around in my head, but I'm not certain when they will reach escape velocity. There's no rush I suppose.

I did get an etsy purchase in the mail on Wednesday. I bought these shoes after falling in love with them when they were first featured on Etsy. Clearly the stores purveyor had no idea they would get so much attention and she was bombarded with orders. It took quite some time before I received an message that she was now making the shoes in the black I had requested. I almost didn't buy them because I was annoyed at being ignored so long and the price had gone up as well...but I really wanted them so I caved.

They are well made, cute and vegan, if you're into that sort of thing. I don't really care on that point. She says that they are suitable for outdoor and indoor wear, but the soles have no rigid material. This makes for a bit of a Princess and the Pea situation. Sure, you can wear them outside, but they are definitely not all season and you'll feel a little like you're barefoot. Of course the lack of a rigid soles means they are horribly comfortable to wear around the house. I can even sit, legs crossed without any shoe based discomfort. They are available from HydraHeart at etsy for $48. Be careful when you measure your feet though, I was a little generous with my measurements thinking it would help comfort, but instead I ended up with my shoes being a bit looser than I'd like. I still like them a lot, in fact I'm wearing them right now.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Am I Doing Right?

Here I am sitting on top of a large and shiny bubble. Below me I hear the familiar sound of popping as people are unceremoniously thrown to the ground. All around and above I see other bubbles resisting the urge to burst. Some of their riders seem terribly confident while others appear to be bracing for an inevitable fall. I don't know why or how my bubble maintains its shape and I too am preparing for an unannounced tumble. Normally I wouldn't question my luck, but as it often happens, I am a slave to my own curiosity.

It is fairly easy to see why the smaller bubbles are bursting. To abandon the metaphor for a bit and speak a bit clearer, the smaller handmade sellers are not selling for the simple reasons. They have bad pictures or descriptions. The objects they make are generic or poorly made. They do not network, list often or price their items well. It is always easy to point out the things one is doing very wrong. What is not as easy is pinpointing what someone is doing right and replicating that.

There are tons of people that do all those thing right and they are still not selling. Sure, you could blame the economy for a lack of sales. It is simple to put the responsibility outside your sphere of influence, throw up your hands and say there is nothing that can be done about it. The only problem with that, is there are people selling. I'm been very lucky to maintain fairly regular sales even after the holidays, even in this economy. The big question is of course, why? What am I doing right that someone just as skilled as me is doing wrong? Is it dumb luck? I am also aware that by asking the question I am more than likely jinxing myself, but I must ask.

I don't visit the etsy forums much anymore, unless someone on twitter links to something interesting, but I still see all the I'm not selling threads. I see all the complaints about not getting any views when listing new items and I see people blaming the growing size of the venue for their lack of exposure. So again, what am I doing that is different? I seem to get plenty of views when I list new pieces. I see the growth of the site as a what good for the whole is good for the individual. I don't get a sale everyday, but often enough that I'm keeping busy.

I know you were thinking that I had answer to all these questions, I don't. I really have no idea what I'm doing, though I wish I did so that I could help people out. I don't advertise. I don't run sales. I network a bit, mostly on twitter these days, but other than keeping my "face" out there I don't see that as a huge boon. I write in the blog regularly, but I barely get any traffic from the blog to my shop. I try to list something everyday, but I generally don't renew unless something is about to expire. If someone else out there sees the secret formula that I'm missing, please share. I'd really love to know what's keeping my bubble afloat so I can make sure it continues to float on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Little Advice

Today I thought I would share a lesson that took far too long to set in for me. When you get a question about an item, it is not the same as an order. When you are asked if something can be made in a different color or length, it is not the same as an order. A compliment with a side comment about a future order, is not a order. When someone orders something and does not pay for it, it is not an order. Repeated correspondence in regards to a future order or custom piece is not the same as an order. I think you get the point here. Until actual money changes hand it is all speculation and an over eager seller can get themselves in a heap of trouble here.

What you must endeavor to remember is that you are under no obligation to work until you have been paid, so don't. Do not order supplies, do not work out design elements, do not celebrate, do not pre-spend your profit, do not do a single thing until the sale goes through. Don't trust in someones perceived enthusiasm and make a custom order before listing and getting paid in advance for it. These are hard lessons to learn. We all get excited at the prospect of a large order or a custom client, but to get all proverbial, we mustn't count our eggs before they've hatched.

I've had a lot of unhatched eggs lately and this has me thinking back to some of my first duds. I got over excited and worse than the physical time and energy that I expended was the mental energy wasted on creating, worrying and ultimately feeling disappointed. If only I had know how much simpler it would have been to not get invested in every potential and simply wait for the actual sale before reacting.

I am not an expert or a huge seller of handcrafted goods, so feel free to ignore my advice here. Go ahead, get excited every time someone looks in your direction, but some time from now, when you are tired of getting disappointed, you'll remember that I told you to wait and see. Sure, it seems like an awfully pessimistic approach to life, but it makes every real sale that much better. Thus ends my dispersion of wisdom for the day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When I Grow Up

Last week I decided to share a little bit about me and I gave you the story of the name, TotusMel. This week I shall go a little further into the past and answer the question...

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was very little that question was terribly easy to answer. I was going to be a Prima Ballerina. Like lot of little girls, I started dance classes when I was three years old. I started out with ballet and tap once a week, but soon I was obsessed. Eventually I had classes nearly everyday of the week, many days more than one class. I was taking ballet, tap, jazz and even modern at times. It was clear from a very young age that I would have a classic dancers body, slight and petite and I was certain that this would lead to a wonderful career in dance. My family had a membership with the ABT in San Fransisco and I was lucky enough to see many performances. I got to attend rehearsals and I even saw Mikhail Baryshnikov dance in his prime. Hell, I even saw Patrick Swayze perform before he became a movie star.

I pestered my dance teacher until she allowed my to go on pointe. I was so young that I had to buy the smallest pair of toe shoes they made. As I got older my attention turned away from ballet and it's very disciplined nature to jazz and dancing to my favorite songs. I would choreograph dances to everything I heard and I would play music videos over and over until I learned all the steps. I was a member of a dance troupe and we performed often, but as my peers developed adult bodies, I maintained that slight and curve less ballet body and was demoted to dance with the younger girls.

I was always very ambitious as a child and I was trying my hardest to get my parents to send me to a performing arts school like the one on Fame. I had dreamed of a life on stage, but the fates were beginning to turn against me. I was staring to question my ability to compete at that level. I like to say that I preferred being a big fish in small pond to being a small fish in a big pond, but really, I was just a big old wuss.

About the same time as I was having doubts that I could survive the life of a dancer, my families finances took a nose dive, why is another story. We could no longer afford dance classes and I was was cut off cold turkey. I kept practicing at home and dancing wherever I was, but eventually it fell away. Aside from the random tap dancing in my kitchen and dancing with the kids for fun, I haven't really danced in years. I miss it sometimes, partly because I defined myself as a dancer for so long.

A dancer isn't the only thing I wanted to be as a kid, but I promised one story at a time and this one is over. Now it's back to tatting and unresponsive customers. I hope you enjoyed this little trip to my past.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More New

After Thursdays surprise productivity I thoroughly expected to slide backwards immediately into a quagmire of non creation, but I didn't. In fact on Friday I managed not one, but two new creations. Both of them came from the pages of a turn of the century tatting book by Anna Valeire. Both of them follow the same concept as my Viva La Reine necklace. I start with a motif and build just a bit on the side and follow with a spiral and split ring chain to create the necklace. I am particularly happy with the first one I'm calling Frivolite De Cercle which translates roughly to circle tatting, I know creative right?

Here's a little factoid for all my non tatting friends. There are two methods for tatting, shuttle and needle. Most modern patterns and nearly all antique patterns are written for either one or two shuttles. Needle tatting is a fairly new technique and has two different ways to mimic the shuttle technique. Most commonly the needle is used to mimic two shuttle patterns and that is the way I do most of my tatting. The method needed to mimic single shuttle patterns such as the one for this motif requires that I cut off a really long piece of thread and is quite cumbersome. Usually when confronted with one of these patterns, I adapt it by adding chains so I don't have to cut the thread. This time I sucked it up and worked with the tangling mess of thread and I'm glad I did.

I think the piece really needed the thread spaces in between the the large and small outside rings. Chains would have been too bulky. The other piece I made up was more basic. It started with a small round motif and I added the same type of chain to create the necklace. I am now completely sick of making the spiral chains so don't expect to see anymore of these anytime soon. I worked on a mask the rest of the weekend and this week looks like I will be working on remaking old pieces again since my creative urge has been all used up, for now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rain Keeps Falling

You will never believe what happened yesterday. I actually made something new. I fought through my headaches and my children's inexplicable need to thwart my every effort and I made a brand new necklace. I did indeed start out with the gray lampworked droplets, just one for this piece. I dug through my box of, well, crap and came up with some black diamond colored crystals that matched the shade of the droplet. I knew I wanted to make a multi-strand piece, but I thought it would be more a straight chain that I ended up creating.

I started with the top strand and made a chain of Josephine knots and split rings. Then I started on the second level. I kept having to hand the piece on my mannequin head to see it hang. It eventually became clear after a lot of tangles and missteps that this one ought to go in a chandelier style. I modified the flowers from my flower garland necklace to a smaller three petal design and I hung the droplet in the center directly on the spiral chain.

You'll notice that I added a flower behind the droplet as it needed a little something with the sparkling flowers surrounding it. When I create a piece, I usually have an inner dialogue about what I should call it and as it often happens, this time there was a song lyric running through my head and that inevitably gave way to its name. The gray drop reminds me of a raindrop, add in that it was raining yesterday and I came up with Rain Keeps Falling.

I don't think it turned out to be the best feature of the bead, which was my original intent. I do however like the way the necklace turned out. Too bad it was a pain in the neck to make, so many tangles and getting the flowers to fall in the right direction was a bit of a challenge. I think I shall try again to make another piece with a droplet and see what else I can come up with, but I'll leave that for another day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rain and A Headache

This is shaping up to be one terribly long week. Starting with the Monday holiday, followed by a dentist appointment and then nothing else. To top it all off I've had headaches off and on, mostly on for like a week due to my jaw clenching. I got all the cluster effect orders completed and in the mail yesterday. This leaves me free, theoretically, to create new pieces, but I still have at least a dozen pieces to make that sold during the holiday season. Unfortunately most of those are more time consuming projects that means I still can't make anything new if I want to get those done.

I bought these great lamp worked beads back in November from formfireglassworks's shop with the intention of framing them in tatted necklaces similar to the ones I did with AlwaysAmy's pendants. The are still sitting in their package unused. I think I might just buck the remaking work in favor of making something with one of them. I had a bit of an idea this morning that I'm sure to lose if I wait too long to try it out.

Yes, I think that is what I will do on this rainy day. I will try and create something new. Of course that means after I finish the new piece, I will have to take pictures and make up a listing. I haven't done any of those things in months. I hope I remember how. I better get on it before someone orders another custom mask or something.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Are You Looking At?

I don't tat much in public. It's not because it's not a portable craft, it is. It 's because I am usually out with the whole family and two small children require that I have two free hands. Yesterday however, I was out all alone to a dentist appointment, toothache. As much as I had no real desire to go the dentist and find out that I needed a filling or root canal or something else unpleasant sounding, at least I could take some tatting. I grabbed a small ball of thread and a needle and pulled them out just as soon as I sat down in the waiting room.

I got to work on one of my Viva La Reine necklaces since it's a small piece whose pattern is absolutely committed to memory. A few rings in I looked up to see if I was being stared at, which is the norm for me, purple and blue hair remember. I am used to these looks and they are generally the same, but this time I caught a slightly different look. This time I was getting a look of confusion. It took me a moment to gather the reason and then I realized what they must be seeing. Here I am sitting with a large needle that looks a little like it belongs on the dentists tray, wrapping knots of thread around it at warp speed. I forget that for all the people that have learned what needle tatting is, there are thousands of others that have no clue what that is.

No one said a word until the hygienist sat me in the chair and asked what I was doing. I dutifully answered that I was tatting and I make lace jewelry. Her response indicated that my answer has simply begged more questions which she probably didn't have the time or inclination to ask. I claim all the time that tatting is not a lost or dying art since I am surrounded online with so many others who tat or at least appreciate the art form, but when I am expose it in real life there is a decidedly different reaction that makes me want to work harder to revive it.

Oh, if you were curious how the appointment went, it turns out I am clenching my jaw. This has resulted in pain where I have two large fillings sensitive to the pressure I am subconsciously putting on them. Of course I had no idea that I was doing this and now I need to discover when I do it and try to stop, lest I kill off the tooth and cause a host of other problems. I think I would have preferred the root canal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Well my mind is all over the place this morning. I was reading a blog post by a steamteam friend about the Edwardian Ball early and besides making me horribly jealous, it got me feeling a little nostalgic. There were a lot of things I used to want to do and places I thought I might go. I know there is still plenty of time for many amazing adventures, but this short backward glance sent my brain in yet another direction. I realized that I sit here and mouth off nearly every day and I never seem to share all that much about who I am outside of craft. Sure, you know I'm a tattooed needle tatter that makes stuff to sell on etsy and you probably figured out that I'm married with a couple of kids, but aside from that personal revelations are few and far between. I'm not saying that I should start spouting out my address, phone number and social security number, but I thought it would be neat if once a week I offer up a fact or secret until I run of interesting things to share or get bored. So I thought I would start things off with...

What the holy hell is TotusMel?

Over a decade ago I got online and was faced with the challenge of created my first screen name. At first I was happy to try out something simple like Dragongirl, but it soon became clear that all the simple names were taken and if I wanted one of those I would have to add some ridiculous number sequence after it. I decided to change tactics. It is worth noting that I was straight out of college at this point and was feeling fairly pretentious. I had just finished reading Ulysses by Jame Joyce with the help of not one or two, but three dictionaries and thought I would look terribly intelligent if my screen name was in Latin.

It couldn't be just any Latin though, it needed to not only have meaning, but be a phrase no one else would ever pick. For this I started with my name, Pamela. Though the name was apparently coined by an author, I had read that the names meaning is "all honey". The word for honey is Mel and the word for all is Totus. I combined the two into what is probably a horrible grammatical error into TotusMel. I imagine that no one will ever try to use my screen name and I have yet to have a need to change it. It has simple become who I am online, my other name.

I am still working on my cluster effect masks and I predict that as soon as I finish and start on another project the cluster will rear its head again leaving me in a creative rut. I will try to keep up this personal exposure once a week, I hope it makes for an interesting read in the absence of new tatting to share.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Cluster is Real

I imagine many of you thought that my fear of the cluster effect was terribly unfounded. There are probably tons of artisans that work almost entirely in custom work, creating at the whims of their customers from a catalog of prototypes. They do this quite easily I imagine and as I've been told, many people have no problem waiting for an item made just for them. All that being said, I still fear the cluster. Right after I accepted listing custom items as a viable option, I listed a few sold pieces as custom orders. As I predicted, the next three orders were custom pieces and I officially have a backlog of tatted goodness to create.

I really can't complain about the orders. I get excited with each and every one of them, but it does change my plans for a while. I had hoped that I could get on a couple of new pieces soon and I really wanted to see if I can work up some sort of needle tatting tutorial soon. I guess I must accept that if I want to do these things, that I need to set aside time for them and not allow even custom orders to get in the way. I have padded my custom orders with a two week waiting period, but I can't help making the pieces just as fast as I can. I have stopped work a couple of times to remake simple pieces, but that's a fairly rare occurrence.

What's sick, is I will probably keep listing the custom pieces regardless of my fear and the stress that completing them gives me. Underneath it all I really adore the idea of as many people as possible owning the tatted jewelry and masks I have made. I still imagine what it will be like to see a stranger wearing my work. I wonder if I would have the courage to walk up to them and tell them that I made their necklace or bracelet. Of course it's really a moot point as I've sold very little to anyone who lives near me, but it's fun to dream.

Well, I should back to tatting, though I doubt I'll get much done today since hubby is off today. More likely, I'll be watching a lot of video game playing and cleaning up messes. You know, a normal vacation type day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Curious Numbers

It's has been a week now since Etsy launched Google Analytics for sellers and though I imagine this data will be much more useful once there is a whole lot more of it, some interesting things have already begun to emerge. First interesting piece of information, is that since each store is part of a much larger whole, the GA data track what sites and search words led visitors to etsy in general and gives you that information if said visitor lands in your shop at anytime. This make the data a bit odd at times. For instance the search phrase, 'she rides a lion' eventually landed someone at my storefront. I also have tons of referring links that clearly landed in my store after visiting the actual linked store first. I have found myself checking these referring sites a lot and interestingly finding a lot of interesting places that I'm surprised I haven't visited already.

A few other odd things I've discovered, I've had visitors for 45 countries. Most unsurprisingly from the U.S. and Canada, but third is Italy, which I would not have guessed. In the last week, I've had 1266 visits and 658 absolute unique visitors. What that seems to say is that a lot of people have visited more than once and I average 180 visits a day. I don't have any idea if those numbers are good or not as I have no one else's numbers to compare with. A gigantic portion of those visits were either direct or through google search, next was from Twitter, then, which is odd since I haven't been there in like a year. I got a lot of hits this week from the feature on The Coveted and quite a few from my blog, though most of those were experiment related.

What this seems to be telling me about my blog, is that it is not in fact sending many people shopping. I can't say that I'm surprised. I figure that most of my readers are my contemporaries, my friends and a few family members. What is interesting though, is that after the major traffic senders most of the referring links are from blogs, tons of different blogs, mostly by other creative types. It seems that people tend to click through to etsy from blogs and then they spend a lot of time looking around.

After a month or so I think I'll take another comprehensive look at the number to see what they can tell me then. Feel free to share your numbers with me too. I've love to have something to compare mine with. You can email them to me if you don't want to post them, there's a contact me link just below the link exchange, but I won't be surprised if no one shares. I was a little apprehensive about it too. I mean what if my numbers are embarrassingly low or I've made people feel bad because they're high? Unfortunately I have no idea so there you go.

In other news, look at the great skirt I got in the mail yesterday. I got it from Damselinthisdress over a the etsy. I was coveting the short version of the skirt, but I really wanted a long one. I asked and she had a long version already made. Yay for me! I don't really have an occasion for the skirt, though I thought it looked pretty great with the hoodie I was wearing when it arrived. Imagine walking down the street like this. Then, I would feel accidentally cool.

Speaking of cool, thanks to all of you who commented yesterday. I clearly have self esteem issues and your words gave me quite a boost. I also want to thank everyone who took the time to click through to my store for the sake of my data tracking obsession. There was a clear correlation in my GA data and I appreciate the help. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

All The Cool Kids

I might have mentioned this before, but I was a geek, nerd, outcast, social reject, etc., you get the point. As as child I tried very hard to get noticed by the popular kids. When it became obvious to me that I was working toward an unobtainable goal, I gave up and simply tried to be me. I never, however, let go of the desire to one day be more than them and to be able to show them that success whatever it may be. I just can't completely let go of that insecurity and I still find myself on the outside looking in.

On the twitter, along with following my actual friends and contemporaries, I have chosen to follow who I think are the cool kids. The other day one of them asked all those strangers follwing her why we were stalking her. I replied that I try to follow the cool kids and live vicariously through them. I am still that geek, hoping that they will turn around, notice me and realize that we would get on famously. More often than not, I still go unnoticed my those I deem cool and even though I know that it shouldn't bother me that people I have never met and will probably never meet don't pay attention to me, it brings back those juvenile high school feelings of rejection.

Every once in a while something will happen to make me question my invisible geek status. Usually that thing will be a comment left on a blog feature of my work. A comment like this, "I've loved her work for ages." or "I've been a fan of her work for sometime.". They always make me stop and audibly utter, "Really?". Then I sit and wonder if there are in fact people who think that I am one of the cool kids? Are there people out there who wish that I would turn around and notice them, 'cause that's really weird to me. Sure I get the occasional odd follow on twitter from someone I don't know, I assume that they are just randomly picking people by their avatars, but is it possible that a few are, dare I saw, fans?

I have not accepted this scenario at all, though I do entertain it from time to time. When I imagine that it is all true I get a little sad that even if it is, I doubt that Internet fame is something I could lord over my childhood cool kids. I can never go back and redo my childhood, though I don't think I would even if it were possible. That rejected kid I was developed a great, albeit strange sense of humor and relatively healthy sense of self. It is that kid that bonded over a similar past with the rejected kid that was my future husband. I know I'll never be that cool kid nor friends with the cool kids I live vicariously through on twitter and really that's fine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Cluster

I have been having the hardest time getting things remade after the holidays, but I really want all those designs listed so people can see everything that I make. A few days ago I asked my twitter friends what they thought about listing items as custom orders rather than already made. The general consensus was it is fine to have a mix of both in the store. I often list my mask as custom pieces since people seem willing to wait a bit for those, but after the twitter advice, I went ahead and listed one of my neck pieces as a custom too. I hesitate to add more as customs because I am afraid of the cluster effect.

This cluster effect has been going strong in the store lately. My most popular necklace has been flying off the virtual shelves just as fast as I can make them. This seems to happen to this necklace a lot. I will sell three or more in a burst and then nothing for a long time. This effect seems to exist everywhere. When we went to get out wrists tattooed for Christmas, the tattoo artist guessed that we wanted a "Z" because the last customer had asked for one. He explained that if the next person asked for a chipmunk, the next three customers would ask for the same thing.

I bring this up as the reason I am afraid to list more custom pieces. What happens when three customers in a row order custom pieces? How much of a time cushion should I add to the listings to prepare for the cluster effect? There are a lot of people who do almost all their sales as custom orders and I wonder if they exist in a state of constant chaos or does their time cushion allow them stay calm and carry on? I guess I'll find out pretty quick if I decide to go ahead and start listing more custom pieces.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Twitter Button from Now, I know I've babbled on about Twitter before, but as I've decided it's my new best friend I thought I'd share what I've learned about using the site. If you haven't checked it out at all, they call it a micro blogging site, but it really feels more like a giant, unruly forum. You can spend hours watching half conversations, uncovering drama and actually conversing with hundreds of people at the same time. In the last few weeks, I have read more interesting blogs and found more like minded people than I ever did at more traditional networking sites like myspace.

I am not a social person. I do not like wasting time talking to people I have nothing in common with. I do not like putting on a happy face to get in the good graces of people I don't know. With Twitter, I can follow whoever I like, block whoever I don't and generally spend my time talking to like minded people and actually enjoy networking for once. I also do not like marketing, it's just not my thing. I do not like to advertise, I do not like beating people over the head with my listing. I do however, want to be noticed and again Twitter is great for non invasive exposure.

Here's what I've learned. First, get an avatar & write a really good and accurate profile complete with a link to your store or blog. Then find people you know from other spaces, people you like then start posting. Simple thing work best, status updates, new projects, listings, what you're having for lunch, things you want to buy, etc. Make sure you respond to other posts and try engaging people with questions. Once you're comfortable communicating in 140 character statements, start looking for more people to follow. Look through other peoples follower lists for people that you find interesting and people who might like your work. When you add them to your following list, they get an email. The first thing most people do is check out your profile to see whether they want to follow you back or not.

This is passive advertising. Don't go wild adding hundreds at a time though. That makes it look like all you're trying to do is sell something. Use twitter to make a few connections, click on links, and try not to let it take over your day. You will inevitably get followed by some strange or creepy people, if they're extra creepy, just block them otherwise just don't follow them back, eventually they'll go away. If you decide this is the place for you, you might want to get a dashboard widget so you aren't constantly refreshing your web page. I use Tweetdeck, but there are at least a dozen of them. It allows me to literally tweet all day long in the background of my computer without leaving my browser open. This may or may not be a good thing.

I'm certain that Twitter isn't for everyone, but its been great for me. It satisfies my need to read a little drama, exposes me and my work to new audiences without effort and allows me casual interaction with many new people. I follow tons of etsians, but I also follow news sources, fake new sources, comic book creators, actors, bloggers, fashion mavens and scrunches of other people that I think are cool. They don't all follow me back and that's fine too. I've gotten a few sales, bought a few things myself and just this morning I got a wonderful blog mention at The Coveted blog that I never would have gotten had I not followed it author on Twitter.

I do wish a few more of my tatting friends were there sharing projects, so if you want to check it out, go ahead and follow me. I'll try not to lead you down a bad road, but don't blame me if you get addicted.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Satisfaction Brought It Back

I am of course referring to the cat that curiosity was killing just a few days ago. That's right etsy unveiled its link to Google Analytics for shop owners. It took about a minute to set up and a couple of hours to go live for those of us with existing analytics accounts. Like so many things the data it revealed presented just as many questions as it answered. Many of the keywords made perfect sense, people searching for tatting or for me specifically, yet many were very perplexing. I could not for the life of me figure out why a search for "cupcake applique on a onesie" resulted in a visit to my store. After a visit to the etsy forums, I had a sort of answer. Apparently, since our stores are part of a much larger site Googles data is showing us information that brought people to etsy who then clicked through to our stores. They do not have access to the internal paths that might show how that leap was made and etsy is working on a way to link the two services more accurately, but they don't have the ability to make this external tool perfect for our needs.

I could complain, but following these bizarre links has been quite a game for me this weekend and really the numbers will prove to be just as important as the more specific data. I spent quite a lot of time checking out the links that brought people, albeit indirectly, to my store. Some of them had links to my store, but most did not. I got several hits from people visits from the Closed Thread blog, which puzzles me a bit and I even got visits from The Black Apples blog. I do wish I knew how they got from there to here, but I guess I cant know everything.

One glaring omission from my link data I just noticed this morning, is I got not one single visit to the store from my blog. I know I don't write on weekends, but it still seemed odd to me. So if you will please indulge me in an experiment. Click through to my store after you finish reading and let me know you did it, if it's not too much trouble. You can shop if you want, but mostly I just want to track the data in a less than scientific manner. I don't usually link to the store since there's a permanent link in the left column, but here's one for the experiment:

Thanks to anyone who plays for me. I am still working on a tatted mask and I have several pieces on a list to remake before I get around to making some new pieces. I do have the beginnings of a new mask floating around in my head right now, perhaps colored for Mardi Gras, but I'm not sure yet. I guess we'll see what emerges when I get the time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

You Will All Be Tatting One Day

Let me start off today with a little show and tell. Jane of Lamplighter has made yet another truly amazing light shade embellished with medallions she had me custom make for her. Her shades are spectacularly detailed and I am always honored to have a small piece of my work as a part of hers.

Yesterday while I was procrastinating instead of tatting masks, I read a post on threadsofatattinggoddess about why we blog and she made a comment about how there were so few tatting tutorials compared to say knitting or crochet ones. I have toyed around with the idea of doing how-to tutorials or videos, but I decided not to bother as they already existed online. I think I forgot that not everyone is a master of the search engine. If it is online I pride myself on my ability to find it. It hardly ever occurs to me that not everyone is as comfortable with searching as I am and just because I can find three different how-to articles doesn't mean that everyone else can.

Anyway, her post made me think that perhaps there were not enough different tutorials to choose from and adding to the pool may not be the waste of time that I initially assumed it would be. Do I think that I can do a better job than the others I've seen? No, not really. I'm not a photographer or videographer or a skilled writer, but I do know how to needle tat and maybe that's enough. I still have one more mask on order that I need to make up, but after that I plan on working on a basic how to needle tat and I will post it either here or more likely on Instructables since the site is pre formatted for such things. I just hope there are enough people curious to learn.

What's a little funny to me about my desire to convert people to the art of tatting is it was the lack of other tatters that brought me to the craft in the first place. I really liked the idea of being able to do something that few others could. I love the fact that people look at tatting like it must be some sort of magic and impossible to replicate. Even more amazing is the looks I receive when people actually watch me tat at full speed. I tell them it's not as hard as it looks and they never believe me. I do honestly want more tatters in the world. I want to see tatting embellishing high end clothing and celebrities wearing tatted jewelry (preferable mine) and I would love to walk into a bookstore and actually find a tatting book in stock. I refuse to believe that this is a dying art and I will do what little I can to keep it alive.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Curiosity Is Killing This Cat

When I returned from my short trip I was greeted by a small burst of attention in my etsy store. I had a new chunk of people favoriting my store and a few more messages than usual and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why this happened. No front page I could find or blog mention or anything really that would explain it. This was the first time I really got antsy for the stats that are soon to be coming our way from etsy. I heard just a while ago that they are beta testing google analytics for sellers. I didn't really see the need for them for me as I don't advertise or anything, but I am an information junkie.

I've had google analytics on the blog for quite some time. It provides me absolutely no vital data. I don't really need to know how many visitors I have, where they come from and what browser they're using. I don't need to know what percentage of visits I get from each country or how many pages they visit or even what search terms landed them on my page, but I don't want to live without that information now that I know I can have it. I'm sure it will be the same with the stats for my etsy page. It won't really affect how I conduct myself, but I just have to know.

I am dying to find out where my customers come from and how they found me. I've had a fair amount of exposure though various channels online, but I rarely have any connection from those moments of exposure to sales. I have no idea if a blog interview or even my brief boing boing fame brought me any new customers. Sure, I get the occasional message telling me where they spied my work, but the rest is silence. I don't know when to expect this new information, but I'm sure as soon as I do I will have a brand new obsession.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Normality Achieved

Ah, I'm home. Thanks for putting up with my Mac-centric posting the last few days. We had a fine time in the city and I'm definitely tired. I could regale you with many short stories of the events of the last two days that have nothing to do with tatting or craft at all, but luckily I do have one crafty story from my trip to share.

We spent Monday doing a little tourist shopping at Pier 39. After shopping for a bit in the nearly deserted due to rain area, we stopped in at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. As soon as we were seated my Mother-in-law busted out with her knitting. She is always working on dishcloths wherever she goes on a set of circular needles she can easily tuck away. When our server came back and saw the knitting, she had to ask a few questions. You see, she had received a 'learn to knit' kit for Christmas and had quickly become addicted. It was funny to hear the learning stories and we answered a few questions about making things like hats and leg warmers. I guess you never know when or where you will run into a new knitter these days.

The event got me thinking about my early knitting stories. I can't honestly remember how young I was when I first learned to knit, but it was in high school that I went from fiber curious to addict. I had a set of circular needles and I was going to make a blanket. I scrounged the house looking for every scrap of acrylic yarn I could find left over from Girl Scout crafts or my mothers crochet. I don't know how many stitches I casted on and it was quite some time before I realized exactly how wide this disaster of a striped blanket would be. It became a huge king sized blanket striped in clashing colors. I worked on it so long that I wore out almost all the color on one side of the needles. I still have the thing complete with sloppy repairs of dog made holes. Even more amusing is that I had initially taught myself the pearl stitch wrong and the entire thing is made with a twisted stockinette stitch. I haven't knitted in a while having shifted to tatting a few years ago, but it is still dear in my heart and a house full of scarves, blankets, teddy bears, hats and even a few sweaters and tank tops speaks to a hidden addiction.

I did also finish my tatted throat corset that I spoke of before I left. I decided to try tatting in the car on the way up and back and apparently that was just enough time to get most of the piece done. I came home to a couple of mask orders so it's on to them next. I guess we are really back normality now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Tuesday

Originally uploaded by jrahn_sd
If all is going according to plan I am enjoying the expo floor at MacWorld right now with my family, though it may be our last. I'm certain I shall have a story or two for you tomorrow that, unless you too are a bit of a Mac fan, you will probably not care so much about. I decided to schedule a post because it is far too early in the year to already be slacking off even if I don't have anything of consequence to say.

The picture is of my oldest daughters 3rd Apple computer, by the way. She got her first when she was 2, I think. My brother took the picture when he was up for the Christmas holiday and I think it illustrates the importance of the trip for the whole family. When her Grandma asked what we were going to do in San Fransisco, she replied, "Go to the Apple store." Yep, she has no chance for normality and don't get her started on video games and comic books, her knowledge is well beyond her years.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Away Again

Every year since way before the kids were born, me & the husband have made a sort of pilgrimage to Macworld in San Fransisco. Since it's just a couple of hours away, we usually head over for the day with the kids, walk the floor and come home. This year we're dragging along the in-laws and leaving a day early so we can play tourist for a bit and get our badges the night before avoid the horrors of the Tuesday morning line.

When I first started attending, it was all about supporting my tech husband, but more and more I find myself entranced with all the new gadgets and software and I am a little sad that this marks the last year Apple will be attending. I wonder if this marks the end of what was to become a family tradition. I still have the first Mac that my family bought, a Mac Classic with a screen barely bigger than an ipod. It still worked last time I checked, though I haven't powered it on in a few years.

Anyway, I obviously won't be tatting for a few days as I endulge the other geeky side of myself, but when I get back I've resolved that I am going to work on the big projects. I tend to stick to remaking the things I can finish in less than a day, but that leaves things like my masks and collars that keep getting pushed back and I've afraid if I don't just bite the bullet I'll never get back to them. When I leave too many big pieces on the to-do list I stall and another side effect of that stalling is I don't get around to working on new pieces either. So I've already started a few panels of my throat corset that I sold over the holidays to someone in Denmark of all places and hopefully that will keep me on the right track.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What Was I Gonna Say This Time?

Okay, it's one of those mornings when I have nothing planned to write about. I'm sitting here with a long list of items to be tatted and rooms to be cleaned and countless other small tasks that should be attended to, but most likely will not be done any time soon. Instead I find myself thinking of strange and mostly irrelevant topics. Already this morning I have discussed the potential for life on other planets and the rumors over what new product will be announced at Macworld next week.

I feel scattered and unfocused and I blame the winter holidays that throw my schedule off so horribly. I remember when I was in high school I wanted nothing more than to be free to do whatever I liked whenever I liked, but by college I realized that I thrive on structure. While I am much happier to determine that structure myself, I definitely need one in place to function correctly. I need to start the day with coffee and the news. I need to check my email, etsy, twitter, steam forum and blog every weekday morning. When I am forced away from these an other predetermined events for too long everything seems to suffer.

I hope that after Macworld, things settle back into my less than exciting routine and I can really get back to work. Until then I'm afraid you will suffer my inconsequential ramblings...sorry.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Well, here we are at the beginning of 2009. This is where most folk start to list their resolutions for the new year, I however do not go in for that nonsense. Sure, it's as good a time as any to make goals going forward, but let's face it nothing really changes on New Year's Day except the date. If you feel the need to make changes in your life, you really shouldn't wait for some arbitrary calendar date to do so. I choose to try and keep growing and learning everyday and watch my children do the same.

I have played the resolution game in the past and like most people, a month or so into the new year all the exercise and eating better disappeared into a pool of guilt and bad habits. There are things I am looking forward to in the new year, my baby turns 2 and my older daughter turns 5 and I shall theoretically begin homeschooling. We hope to try and buy a house in the coming year, if all the stars align correctly for us.

As far as my tatting and etsy go, I'm just hoping that things maintain just about where they are now. I'm sure I will come up with many new designs and I might even offer up a few more patterns, but I refuse to give myself deadlines or specific amounts to create. Last year I had three different magazine articles and while it was certainly a flattering experience, I don't really care if I ever do it again since writing out patterns is quickly becoming my least favorite part of designing. I was also granted a few moments of Internet fame and I do cross my fingers that I manage another 15 minutes in the coming year. It would be terribly awesome if I could be "recognized" in public just once, but I'm certainly not holding my breath. I also had a few offers to collaborate in the coming year and we will see if any of those pan out, though I don't want to overtax myself on any one project.

I suppose that's enough looking forward for now. In the here and now, I have dozens of pieces to remake for etsy that I really ought to be working on. Happy New Year all and I look forward to babbiling nonsesically for you in '09!