Thursday, December 29, 2011

Inventory Check In

Fitted Blue Crib Sheet Photo, a perfect example of a photo that needs help!
Yes, I'm slacking, I know.  The holiday's have thrown me off a bit in terms of posting new products.  I had family in town and have been trying to have some quality family time with my husband and son before we return to work after the new year.  So as a result, the bad news is I'm now 2 WEEKS behind in posting new products.  ACK!  The good news?  I have three products ready to post.  I just need to photograph them and post them.  Two are some different "permutations" of burp cloths and another is a new toddler blanket I just finished the other day. 

One thing I am currently trying to work on is improving my photography through some post-processing with Gimp ( a free photo editing software).  I've actually figured it out a bit, but it is taking me longer to have my photographs ready to post.  Such is life, it's a double edged sword!

Look for a Gimp tutorial in the next coming weeks with some basic tutorials for someone who is a bit intimidated by all those things called layers and isn't quite happy with what can be accomplished with tools like Picnik or Piscasa.  This post is going to take me some time to pull together, so patience my dear grasshoppers!

How are the rest of you doing with your inventory increase even with this holiday bump?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Lessons from Dr. Suess

I'm currently enjoying some family time.  I hope you are as well.  Hopefully your Christmas was a great one.  In the mean time, I scheduled this meandering for you reading pleasure.  Enjoy, I'll be on sporadically this week.
One of my favorite books to read my son is, Oh, The Places You'll Go!, by the good Dr. Suess.  As I was reading it to him the other day it struck me in the parallels it has to running your business.

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

What better way to start your day, life, and business with some great positive words.  Dr Suess can really tell you how it is. It's a very empowering message to people.  I think it really tries to teach people personal accountability.  You are responsible for your own actions and choices.  This is something that I feel is lost on so many people in today's culture.  I think it's refreshing when I see people who still believe in personal accountability and don't believe they are entitled to anything.  Same thing goes for starting your own business.  It's up to you to succeed or fail.  You chose the line of work, you chose how it's run, you chose every details so it's on you to take it where you want. 

THAT'S scary!  Knowing that everything lives and dies by your hand is an intimidating realization.  But to me, it's empowerment.  It's my motivation.  Right now, I'm very proud of my products.  My photography, not so much.  I know there is lots of room for improvement, but my focus hasn't been on improving my photography right now.  You have to pick your battles.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
Right now, that battle for me is inventory.  I'm working hard to increase my inventory significantly over the coming months.  By doing so, I will increase my visibility and hopefully lead to some sales, even with my not to so hot photography.  Baby steps, right?  Rome wasn't built in a day, so I should expect my world dominance to.  (psst, that was a joke, sorta!)

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

Once things start going, I know everything isn't going to be peaches and cream.  There are still going to be bumps in the road.  But as long as you take those hiccups in your business with stride, eventually you will succeed, or as Dr. Seuss says,

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)



be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

So I'm off to start moving my mountain.  I know I won't get there today or tomorrow, but here's to taking steps to get there. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Festivus!

For those of you who may not be fanatics about Seinfeld as I am.  Festivus is a "holiday" that was made up on the show by George Castanza's Dad.  They weren't big on Christmas so his dad created Festivus to "celebrate" the holiday season in their own special way.  If you want to read the full story about it, they even have a Wiki page, but here is an excerpt from the show:

Elaine: What?
George: Nothing. It’s a card from my dad.
Elaine: What is it? “Dear son, Happy Festivus”? What is Festivus?
George: It’s nothing.
Jerry: When George was growing up
George: Jerry, NO!
Jerry: — his father hated all commercial and religious aspects of Christmas, so he made up his own holiday.
Elaine: Ohhhhh, and another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
George: Alright.
Jerry: And instead of a tree, didn’t your father put up an aluminum pole?
George: Alright, Jerry, stop it!
Jerry: And weren’t there always Feats of Strength that always ended up with you crying?
George: I can’t take it any more, I’m going to work! You happy now?!

And so to honor my fellow Seinfeld friends, "I have a lot of problems with you people," and therefore will be making a donation to the Human Fund.  
And now the Feats of Strength!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Treasury

I've been posting a lot recently about Stitch Silly products.  While great and a main reason for this blog, today I wanted to share the love a little and show you a beautiful treasury of Christmas theme items.  Enjoy!

Are you all done with your Christmas shopping yet?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah

Last night was the first night of the festival of lights for those of  you who celebrate it.  Now that Hanukkah is officially under way, I wanted to wish those of you who celebrate a wonderful holiday.  From my upbringing I know some traditions associated with the holiday, but being Catholic, am no experts on the traditions and customs associated with Hanukkah. 

So I turn to you my readers!  What are some of your favorite traditions associated with the holiday? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

4 Days...Are you Ready?

I'm not!  There are presents to wrap, grocery shopping to be done, cleaning to do, and of course products to post. But alas, whether I'm ready or not, Santa is coming for a visit in just 4 short days!  With that, it means family, friends, and fun.  I'm trying to do a little bit each day, hopefully some Santa's elves will help get things in order for the festive celebrations. 

With the onset of Christmas, one can't help but begin to reflect on 2011 and make plans for 2012.  2012 is ripe with so much potential, it's hard for me to nail down one goal for the upcoming year.  But if I have to choose one, I would say I hope to educate others.  Since we've opened our doors, I can't tell you how many people I have seen interested in learning to knit or crochet, or sew.  In the new year, I want to help those people achieve those goals.  Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to achieve that goal!

Have you thought about your goals for 2012 yet?  Share some of your thoughts, maybe we can keep each other motivated or even offer up some ideas to each other to achieve them. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Check In - Increasing Your Inventory Week 3

This is the last week before Christmas!  Is everyone ready for the celebrations?  I will warn you, Stitch Silly may be a little light in the posting while we enjoy some family time, but that won't stop us from posting any new products.  Last week, I finished a few different products that will be coming on line in the new few weeks.  I'm hoping to start another project this week, but with the holiday preparations, I may have to just stick to working on my knitting projects that are on going.  But here's my new products to date:

Week 1: Knit Pom Hat
Week 2: Receiving Blanket Gift Set

I also renewed one of my boppy covers, but I'm not counting that as a new product. 

Fess up people!  What have you added to increase your inventory?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Project Wonderful

As some of you may have noticed, I added a Project Wonderful advertizement on my right side bar.  I signed up a few weeks ago and am giving it a try to try to bring some additional revenue for Stitch Silly, but also to spread the word about other great sights that you may be interested in.  It was a slow start.  When I initially posted an open space for a Project Wonderful, I set it up for a $0 bid.  I assumed this would be an easy entry for most people to start and therefore would get a bid almost immediately.

Not so much!  I wasn't getting anything and didn't understand why.  As I was looking around for something else, I saw a recommendation to set your initial bid at $0.01.  So I did and WHAM!  I got a few bids and now have been pretty consistent with getting people to bid on my shop.

The good news to this is, most of my advertisers are my fellow Etsians!  This is super exciting for me because it lets me learn about over great Esty shop owners AND it helps them get their name out to you, my wonderful readers!

So why did I choose Project Wonderful as opposed to selling ad space myself on the website.  Well the main reason is it's easier.  Project wonderful manages it for me.  That's not an aspect of my life I want to manage so it for me it's easier to outsource. I've also use Adsense, but honestly have not seen the kind of return I would like.  They pay very little and I have no control over the ads.

If you're looking for a new way to bring revenue to your small business, I definitely recommend checking them out.  For those of you who use other methods, what has your experience been?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Next Products are Ready

Wahoo, I finished my burp cloths last night!  Now I have a problem.  I can't decide how I want to package and advertise them.  I need your help!  I have one receiving blanket and ten burp cloths that I made.  I want to do a combo pack of the receiving blanket with some number of burp cloths.  I've gone back and forth on ideas of the receiving blanket with 2 or 4 burp cloths. Then any permutation of the remaining burp cloths you can think of. 

If you were to purchase either as a gift or for yourself, what multiple of burp cloths would you be most interested in purchasing?  1, 2, 3, 4, or 6?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teacher Gift Ideas

Peppermint Stick Cocoa from
Since my son is in daycare, I've had to start the holiday gifts for teachers very early.  While I want to show his teachers they are appreciated, I also have fond memories as a child as making homemade gifts for my teachers.  In that vain, this year I decided to search around Pinterest for some ideas.  I found some really great ones, but eventually found this one from All 

It seemed different and fun, so I decided to give it a try.  I was having problems finding mason jars so I ended up buying some clear ziploc twist containers.  I think they turned out pretty well.  I layered them in a slightly different order, but the effect is the same.  You'll see my finished product at the end of my picture tutorial.  For the full recipe, be sure to follow the link above to All Recipes. 

First, I crushed all my peppermint sticks so I had some nice crumbles.
Before crushing
Post Crushing

A full bowl of crushed peppermint sticks

Next, I started layering each of the other ingredients, powdered milk, cocoa, sugar, mini chocolate chips, and peppermint. 

Adding the mini chocolate chips

Now the peppermint

All filled up!
This didn't take me too long to put together.  Now I just need to print out cards for each of his teachers with "cooking" instructions and a nice little thank you and we're good to go.  I made a few extras that I plan to hand out to other friends over the holidays. 

What fun crafts have you done as DIY Christmas gifts?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inventory Increase Check In

Those of you who are increasing your inventory now.  How is it going?  As you saw last week, I added a great winter hat to the shop.  Since then I have been working on a couple different related products.  I have an extra large receiving blanket completed that I plan to pair with a couple burp cloths.  I also plan to have just a package of 4 or so burp cloths.  In an effort to work in batches I'm doing all the sewing at one time for each step.

For instance, I cut all the burp cloths at the same time.  Then pinned them all, then added the Stitch Silly logo to them all, etc. etc. you get the picture.  I'm just about with the final pinning (my son has been a bit needy recently so sewing has been in spurts) and should have them all sewn either today or tomorrow.  That leaves tomorrow and Thursday for photographs and Friday to post!  Whew...I'll just make it :-)

While you're waiting for my latest creation, what's your most recent product?  I'd love to see!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Car Seat Strap Protectors

Last night I finished my latest custom order.  Boy, was this one a doozy.  When the order was placed I thought, well this will be easy.  Yeah, not so much...

I was asked to make some car seat strap covers to protect your little ones neck while sitting in the car seat.  Great idea, right?  Also, not overly complicated, right?  I cut my finger, bend countless pins, screwed up the first one and had to re-cut the fabric.  They still aren't perfect, but after some blood, sweet, but thankfully no tears, they are done. 

I thought I'd share a few shots of them for you today. 

Fully Opened up

Front Closed

Back with Velcro showing

The full pair

These pictures were taken on my brand new desk as well.  Stop by tomorrow for pictures of my new work space. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Link Within

I have been seeing many blogs including a "You might also like..." section in below each post.  This has been racking my brain as to how to do it for a while now as it seemed too easy to not do, but I just didn't know how to implement it.  Part of my problem was I didn't do the obvious thing until today, I googled it! Sure enough I came across LinkWithin.  It's a widget you can add to your blog that will evaluate your website and creates the suggestions for you. 

I actually thought that it was something that I had to choose what my current post relates to, which becomes increasingly challenging as your blog archive grows.  You install the widget (which was super easy for me under blogger) and it does the rest!  There is no thinking on your part to do, just write your posts as normal.    LinkWithin even has detailed easy to follow instructions for you to follow. 

Check it out, and let me know if it worked for you. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Starting off with a Bang

In honor of my inventory push, I'm trying to start off with a bang, or so I hope!  I am about to just posted a great hand knit hat I made.  This was based on a custom order that I did and had some extra yarn left over so I decided to make a few extra hats.  Today I am posting the adult sized white hats, the kid sizes have already sold (they were the custom order).  The hate is all ready to go for a perfect Christmas gift. 

My son modeling the kid sized version

Red and white kid sized hats

Kid sized white hat

Kid sized red hat

Adult size white hat

Adult sized hat
 Now I just need to finish up some other custom orders I am working on.  I thought one was just about done last night when I realized I did it wrong and had to rip it apart to start will just have to get done tonight now.

Share some link love and post your latest products today, I'd love to see them!

Building your Inventory

With my move and some recent sales, my inventory has taken a tremendous hit recently.  My shop is looking pretty stagnant right now.  To help fight the inventory slump I'm in, I'm taking a call to action.  Who wants to join me? 

I am taking the pledge to post at least one product a week between today and the end of January.  That's eight new products I'll be posting soon!  It's not a lot, but it's a step towards getting more products made and into my "store front."  Will you take this on with me?  For some of you this may be too easy.  What's your pledge then?  16? 24?

Or better yet, who wants to volunteer to keep me motivated?  Ask about it on facebook! Email about it! Leave Comments asking about the progress.  Keep me accountable, and I'll keep you accountable. 

To my customers, what do you want seen created over the new eight weeks.  I have loads of ideas I am thinking about, but I want to hear your from you.  Bring it on!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Business Plans - Part 2

I hope you enjoyed last week's discussion on the value of the having a business plan.  Today I am going to discuss what I got out the review on the Stitch Silly's business/strategic plan.  Without further ado, let's get into the details.

So how am I doing compared to my initial vision?  Let's explore by section.

Products and Services
I've learned a lot in the first six months since Stitch Silly has been open, but there is also a lot I still need to learn.  The landscape of my initial products and services has drastically changed.  Initially I was going to try to break into daycare centers to be their primary linen supplier. At this point, that is not where Stitch Silly is going, nor do I foresee Stitch Silly going in that direction.  That would eventually turn me into a mass producer potentially putting me in competition with the "Walmart's" of the world.

We really want to focus on boutique (high end) quality items for all ages.  The inventory is still primarily based on infant and children's items, but I am actively pursuing expanding the inventory both in product numbers and product lines.  For instance, I have recently sold some gloves, scarves, and hats for older children and adults, but these were custom orders so they haven't actually made it onto the Etsy site. 

In addition to the boutique style of products, I've also recently introduced "Knitting Nights," which is something I hadn't even envisioned when we opened in May, but is something I'm super excited about and hope to build on in the near future.


The initial goal was to average 2 sales a month.  To date, the average sales have been 2.3 sales/month so slightly above the initial goal, hopefully this will continue to increase, but I'm not ready to modify that 2 sales/month goal yet.


What are those?  No really, I wasn't planning on turning a profit in the first 18 months of business, but here I am just six months and I've paid off all current debt!  Now, that's not to say I will be turn a profit this year.  I am planning on making a few investment purchases in the next few months with my recent move.  That will probably eat into the current profit, but it will make life at Stitch Silly much more efficient which means more profit, right?

Overall Reaction

In general, after an initial review I'm feeling pretty good about where Stitch Silly is and where we are heading.  There are some adjustments to be made in the business plan, but as I said previously, this is a living document, as you vision changes so should your plan.

Don't be afraid to make changes. Change is good and enviable, but should be taken in context!

How are you doing in response to your business goals?  Share your stories!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let the Sewing Begin!

I went to Jo Ann Fabrics last night and thought it was going to be a quick trip for some basic fabric for my latest product request, car seat strap protectors.  Boy was a wrong, I didn't need a lot of fabric so I checked the reminent pile first.  There were a lot of options to choose from, but not what I was looking for, though I was tempted.  I found this great quilt fabric that I thought would be a good option.  But since this is for a boy this time, I decided against the fabric and went with my original plan of fleece.  It was a tough call, but I'm happy to report that the sewing will commence tonight! 

What you're greatest hang up when it comes to selecting a material to work with?
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