Monday, December 31, 2012

I know what I did in 2012

It's the last day of 2012 and I'm one of those people who try very hard not to live a life of regrets and sighing. But I have to admit. It is a character flaw. I tend to dwell a little too long on what I should have done, how I should have spent my time better and so on.

In September this year I already knew I wasn't going to achieve all my goals for the year. So I went with the attitude of whatever. Still it hurt because once again, I let time slip by. I know that I sometimes give myself too many goals to achieve. Once again setting myself up for disappointment. And yet I keep doing it. I don't want to think that I never learn. I want to believe that I just want to keep on trying.

Creatively, I wasn't very daring. Just kept to what I already knew, what was safe. I didn't make many new bag designs. Just variations of the old.

I made a lot of bags in 2012. I know because I managed to close the chapter on 1000 Projects Before I Die. I think I made too many bags in 2012 because I really felt so tired. It nearly killed my passion.

As a mom, I found myself for the first time parenting 2 teens in secondary schools. I want to say it was a really rough year, especially with my girl. Things have gotten better so I'm hopeful for the new year, new term.

Ok, let's have a look back on some of the stuff I made which I want to keep making in 2013 because I'm not sick of them yet....





Well, thank you, my dear friends for always coming back to read my posts. Even tho' sometimes I just blog the same old same old. Even tho' a lot of times I make the same old same old.

Most of all, I'm grateful majority of you found it in yourself to accept the little bits of sponsored stuff I sometimes do on my blog, facebook or twitter. (thanks for not unliking/unfollowing me) These sponsored touts don't pay a lot of money. So don't worry about me getting rich. Still for someone who does not have a regular paying job, I won't say no to such opportunities. The pennies I get come in useful when it's time to pay Google for storage, for getting lovely fabric for my giveaways and bags and of course pay for the expensive chocolates and potato chips required to get my creative juice flowing.  As for those who were so incensed enough to unlike/unfollow me, you're gonna miss me!

I have lots of new goals for 2013. Maybe you'll come back next year and see what I have in store? Enjoy your last day of 2012.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm learning to knit

Long ago, way before I started to sew bags, I tried to learn to knit once. Unfortunately I did not know where to go to learn professionally and in those days, youtube did not exist. So I learnt the only way I knew how back then. Via a book.

I guess in the end I learnt nothing because a couple of days ago, I decided to knit something and I had no idea how to hold the knitting needles!


I found this unfinished pouch in my storeroom. It is possibly my second knitted project. I'm pretty sure the first would have been a simple scarf. I can see some mistakes in the pouch. Aren't you amazed I managed to make this? I'm pretty impressed!

Anyway, I had a bit of free time before I start work on new bags in 2013. So I thought it would be a great idea to pick up a new skill before I got swept into the whole bag-making frenzy once again. So I signed up for a Craftsy class - Knit Lab (a video class). It sounded like a perfect fit for me as it's for beginners.

I've gone through 5 lessons already and I'm sad to say this class did not fit me as perfectly as I envisioned. I think it's more suitable for someone who already has some basic knowledge of knitting. One of the problems with this class for a beginner is the camera does not zoom in enough when the teacher is showing how to create the stitch. If it does zoom in, sometimes it changes orientation so you once again lose track of where the needle should go. I am spatially challenged. Otherwise, I think the teacher does tell you a lot of stuff learning knitters would be keen to know.

For my first project, I'm knitting a scarf. (what else?) The teacher knits the continental way - which really means you use your left hand a lot. For a right hander like me, is it really the best way to knit? In my daily life, my left hand just lays there most of the time. The English way requires throwing of yarn. As I age, I start to be wary of using repetitive movements and since the English way requires me to use my right hand to throw, I decided it's best to learn the continental way. In any case, if I'm following the Craftsy class, I have to follow the continental way.

With that out of the way, I proceeded to cast on 20 stitches the long-tail way. The Craftsy teacher teaches the slip knot method. I did that without problems. Then I decided to check out youtube and there is another way to do a long-tail cast on. Video is found here as well. I love this non slip knot way of doing the long-tail cast on. It will always be the way I do it from now on.

Just for the hell of it, I undid my stitches and did the long-tail cast on without the slip knot over and over again and now I can do it in my sleep.

The next part I found really, really hard. I have to knit the first stitch. Oh boy. Here's where the camera man/woman failed me. No matter how hard I tried I had no idea where to insert my needle. I watched the lesson over and over again. Not a clue. And Craftsy videos stall a lot. I use Chrome as recommended but it took me 1 hour to watch the first knit stitch. Finally I decided to go to this video and I finally figured it out.

All these videos I've referred to all come from one site: knittinghelp.com I love this site.


Thus far, I've managed to knit many rows and I'm getting the hang of it. Very soon I'll have to purl. I noticed that for purling, you have to hold the needles a little differently. That I didn't like. So I dug around youtube some more and I discovered this shaky video. In it a teacher demonstrates how you can hold your needle such that you make only subtle changes between knitting and purling. I like this a lot but holding the needle this way is a real bitch. My left hand just keeps disobeying me. But I see the virtue of this method and I'm going to keep working at it.

Also, I noticed that knitting the first stitch always feels harder than knitting the rest of the stitches. All this while I had thought it was just me. Then I saw this video that acknowledged that pesky first stitch. It seems you could skip knitting it! Anyway, the video shows how you can just slip it off!

I'm not planning to become an expert knitter. Just the basic knit and purl will do. I foresee a couple of scarves for my dolls.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Dark Love


I wanted an easy book to read during my 9 days at VivoCity and the library was closing. So I picked A Dark Love by Margaret Carroll because of 2 things. One - the cover has a couple kissing so there's bound to be some "thrills". Two - the back of the book says it's a tale of passion tinged with terror. And I love to read psychological thrillers.

Except....

This book isn't a psychological thriller. It's a psychological thriller wanna-be. I've read plenty of psychological thrillers in my younger days so A Dark Love is pretty amateurish. I think the problem lies in the bad guy. He's not baaaad enough.

But it's not a bad book. It's quite a page-turner. It used most of the formula required for suspense. And I didn't even read it at VivoCity. I read it a few days ago, quite upsetting hubs because he's not used to the sight of my head buried in a novel.

Why are you reading? He kept asking me.

After I finished the book, I realized I had read a similar story many years ago. I saw the movie as well.

A Dark Love
Caroline married a brilliant and wealthy psychoanalyst only to discover too late he's a sick son-of-a-bitch who abuses her mentally and physically. He is obsessive, controlling and is fearful she flirts with other men. Caroline flees her home one day to a far away place. She falls in love with a handsome ex-athlete. But she tells no one her secret. Her husband hunts her down and tries to kill the handsome ex-athlete. He fails to do it and ends up dead. Happy ending for Caroline and handsome ex-athlete.

Sleeping with the enemy
Julia Roberts married a charming and wealthy investment counselor only to discover too late he's a sick son-of-a-bitch who abuses her mentally and physically. He is obsessive, controlling and is fearful she flirts with other men. Julia fakes her death and runs away to a far away place. She falls in love with a school teacher. But she tells no one her secret. Her husband finds out she's not dead and hunts her down and tries to kill the school teacher. He fails to do it and ends up dead. Happy ending for Julia and school teacher.

Plot is the same but how the stories are told is what makes the two books different.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The rule of odd numbers

I often feel exasperated when it comes to displaying my bags and pouches for sale at craft markets. There are a few rules I try to follow faithfully. In case you're not familiar with these rules, they are:

♦ Avoid clutter
♦ Group similar items together
♦ Avoid displaying everything on a flat surface - use varying heights
♦ Avoid displaying in such a manner that when one item is moved, others will collapse

During the Christmas craft market, I tried out something new and I feel it worked for me. I had read that displaying items in odd numbers will capture the attention of customers more than even numbers. Now I have never really paid attention to whether my items are displayed in odd or even numbers.

On the first two days of the craft market, I was, as usual overwhelmed with the setting up and just relied on old instincts to display my wares. But my sales on the first Sunday dived compared to the first day. I had really thought my bags would go snap, snap, snap.

On Monday, I felt desperate and decided to display my items in odd numbers. I tried out in 3's and 5's. I felt that anything more than 5 would be too cluttered. I forgot to take photos of my display for Monday but my sales improved tremendously!

The following are photos I took later in the week. By then, I no longer displayed in 5's, just in 3's.




I noticed that my sales were quite consistent from Monday to Saturday with this new display. On the last Sunday, my sales dived again. By then, my stock had dwindled and it became quite difficult to keep to the 3's rule for similar items. When you put different items together in 3's, they just look messy. Anyway, customers tend not to be interested when you have a sparse table. Like they keep searching up and down with their eyes and they still can't find anything interesting to buy.

I am very excited by the success of displaying my bags in odd numbers. And don't worry. I'll try not to be too OCD about it.


I thought I'll show you one more thing I did with the display. At the craft market, I get one grid wall to display my bags. I hang the long bags on the left hand side. The right hand side of the grid wall is usable so I created a grid wall shelf by securing using a combination of plastic cable ties and a string. I ended up with 2 shelves!

via

I knew my shelves would not collapse as SMRT (train) had used these same plastic cable ties to secure rail "claws"  along the North-South and East-West line.

Monday, December 24, 2012

9 days at VivoCity Christmas craft market post-mortem 15th December to 23rd December 2012

Helloooo,

I didn't manage to write any posts while I was at VivoCity for 9 days. You guys must be missing me like crazy now.

I'm so glad the craft market is over. 9 days really wasn't that hard to go through. It's just that you don't get a break in-between and the human body is not equipped to operate without taking a day off.

Right, here's my post-mortem which many of you must be keenly awaiting....

Location, location, location
I did not get a good booth location. (it's the ones on the perimeter) Demmit! I was right in the center of the open floor. But it was close to the cashier so that's a good thing. Being close to the cashier has some disadvantages though.

Neighbours
To my right I had Mandy of Forest Flame Millinery and across me was Corrina of Cute and Cosy. Having both my buds close by made a huge difference. Apart from having someone to talk to, you can step away for food and toilet breaks without having to worry.

Unfortunately, I ended up having the booth behind this guy whom I shall call Mr Tall. (not his real name) I had been allocated a booth behind his before in the past and it was a terrible experience. And that was just for 2 days. It's not that he's a horrible person. But he always takes up a lot of space. A LOT! The reason? He has truckloads of handmade goods for sale. The table space is insufficient for him even though he has 2 tables. So he keeps some inside the cabinet below the table. The result? Every time he bent down to dig inside his cabinet, he scraped his backside against my back. Yes. Imagine having someone scrape his backside against your back for 9 days. I only lost my cool once on the last day and told him to take everything he needed out once and for all. He said he couldn't promise but he did try to minimize the cabinet visits.


Oh, did I mention he kept boxes of handmade goods on the little space between our booths which made it hard for anyone to walk through. Which also meant that every time he had to walk past me, I got another backside grazing.

I pray very hard that the market organizer will build him his own island the next time he sells at VivoCity.

Table Display
The first two days, I had great difficulty displaying my products because I had so many items. In the end, I had to keep some otherwise my table looked like a junkyard. Still, it looked pretty messy to me.




See what I mean? The first day, Saturday was the best day for me in terms of sales. Despite the messy display.



I'm so glad I made the decision to get both my kids to help me on a few days. They turned out to be pretty good at making sales. I was able to get away and did some shopping.

Sales
I felt that this year, the crowd never really came. Although I am very happy with my overall sales, there was no one day when the crowd came non-stop. There were 2 days (both Sundays) when my sales were shockingly low. I really can't explain it. I've never understood crowd behaviour and what makes people come and what makes people buy. This year's rental costs for the Christmas market is double what we usually pay for the weekend markets. Add in the sales commission and those sellers who did not make good sales are going to feel the pain. For me, what helped was I sold some of my bags online and that was enough to pay for the rental. Now I'm doing the math, I'm really wondering if it's worth the effort and time. I'm not saying I didn't make any profit but the costs of selling at VivoCity is really too high.

Songs
Being close to the cashier has one big disadvantage - the music is louder. Although my deaf ear faced the music, I could still hear the songs. And after 9 days, there are a few songs I want to murder. I have put them on my Hit List.

Hit List
1. anything will jingle bells
2. anything with sleigh bells
3. anything with snow 
4. a few taylor swifts

Best sellers


I sold all my patchwork lunchtime pouches.


I sold all my large bags except this green one.

I sold all my tissue pouches.

I sold all my crescent bags.

I sold all my clutches.

I sold most of my zip pouches.

I sold most of my sling bags.

Oh, I'm most happy I sold all 4 of my Christmas gift stockings! I really didn't want to re-make them into something else.

Survival Tips
The secret to my getting through my 9 days at the craft market is to enjoy some home comforts.


When you are tired, catch a snooze.


And who says you can't enjoy your daily crackers dipped in hot tea?


I will take a long break before my next craft market. I'm not making any plans at the moment. Just want to spend some time lazing around and doing some badly needed housework.

Lastly, I wish to thank all my customers who bought from me - new ones and the faithfuls. See ya.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You can find me at VivoCity Singapore


Dear friends,

From this coming Saturday 15th Dec till the following Sunday 23rd Dec, I'll be manning my craft market at VivoCity. If you are in Singapore, I welcome you to drop by and have a look. (Ha ha. I really just want you to buy something!) There are many other craftsters at this market selling dolls, hair fascinators, accessories. I'm sure you'll find something to buy. (But make sure you buy something from me first.)

Alright then. I won't see you guys for a while. I may pop in or I may not. We'll see.

TTFN

p.s. I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey today. Warning: Expect it to drag here and there and there and some more over there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lunch bags

I have a thing for lunch pouches and bags. Once I considered "specializing" in lunch bags. Of course I quickly dropped the idea. But that's how much I enjoy making small little pouches and bags which I imagine women would use when they go for lunch.


Sometime ago I was working on this little pouchie and I was going to make a few more but as it turned out, I only made one more - which I hung in a corner of my bag closet and completely forgot about.


I made it a little larger. Otherwise, it's almost the same as the first blue houses one I made. This is not an easy pouch to make so I don't think I will consider many of these for future craft markets.


I dipped into the remnants box and made this little bag. It looks so cute. I think the photo does not do it justice.


Bear thought the zip lunch bag is to carry him when I go to VivoCity. But he's too big for it. Anyway, he doesn't know it yet but I'm not taking him to VivoCity!

So how did you spend today, the 12.12.12? Over here, it rained heavily. Not exactly at 12:12pm but sometime later. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary. I tried to play a Instagram game where you capture moments of your life at 12min after every hour but every time I looked at the time, it was way past 12 minutes.

Oh, I have a few other completed bags I have yet to photograph. The rain spoilt my photography plans today.  Also, I have a grand total of 4 Christmas gift bags now. If they don't sell, I have plans to turn them into pouches!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift stocking

This is my last week before I start selling my bags and stuff at the VivoCity Christmas baazar. Over the weekend, I started packing and prize tagging. I wanted to start early because this is the part which I dread the most. Amazingly I do not have that many items made despite starting making my stock pretty early this year. Oh yes, I remember now. I procrastinated a lot and did not go into production mode until sometime in November.

This week I will take it easy and try to adjust my sleeping pattern. The kids and I have been living a crazy lifestyle. We sleep at 3 or 4am and wake up after noon. Then we behave like zombies until it's night and we spring to life again. I'm starting to feel a little sick - a small cough, a sorethroat, sneezing fits, the kind of stuff you don't want to have when you need to be out 12hours or so for 9 days.


I have made a gift stocking. It's large. I think I could put my head in. It's going to be my Christmas decoration. It is also for sale. I hope someone buys it because it's no use to me after Christmas. I bought the fabric from Spotlight. The panels came in the shape of a stocking. How convenient! I added a few embroidery details, some wadding and sewed it up. I dug up a Santa's hat which is for my girl. She wore it last year. I hope her head hasn't grown bigger.

I haven't thought about how I'll spend my time at VivoCity during the hours when there aren't any customers. I bought a box of cereals and that's about it. What was I thinking? I should get some novels and honestly, I don't want to do anything that requires a lot of effort. On the other hand, I don't want to find myself nodding off.

I'm starting to feel I'm too old to be doing this craft market thing. It's tiring and not that rewarding. 9 days is a long time to be out everyday for 12 hours. Anyway, I hope it stops raining soon. It's been raining every single day in Singapore since November. Enough already.

I hope to make one last bag by Friday. One with polka dots!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winner of my last giveaway for 2012

Thank you all for entering my giveaway. Also, thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself. It's always interesting to see how people describe themselves. I enjoyed reading every description and I'm sorry I wasn't able to send everyone a reply as I am still very busy preparing for my craft market. Special mention goes to Finn who wrote: I am a total dork. No, you did not win but I laughed until I choked on my own saliva. Anyways, I have used Random Number Generator to draw a winner and the winner is........



Congrats Alicia. I hope you will enjoy the fabric.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Last giveaway for 2012

Update: Giveaway is closed.

Hello.....


This is my last giveaway for 2012. I'm linking up at Sew Mama Sew here for Giveaway Day. It's a biannual event where bloggers all over the world give away stuff in return for a comment.

If this is your first visit to my blog, I'll just sum it up in one word.

I'm pretty awesome. I make bags. I also make bag patterns. I have 7 bag patterns to my name now. (Go check them out here) I make like 20 bags a week or something. Before a craft market, I sew all the time. I sew and bitch. Then I bitch and sew. Then I sew some more. I sell these bags for cash. Then I blow the money on snacks like potato chips and chocolates and more fabric. I'm quite a story telle....

Oh, wait. I said one word.

That's like one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight....

Okay. Will stop talking.

Now.

What's your prize?

This is how it looks rolled up.

This is what you're getting

- One yard of a colourful fabric.
- One yard of another colourful fabric.

How to enter?

♠ Leave a comment. Tell me about yourself in 25 words or less.

♠ You must leave your email address if your profile is not tied to your email. (you can write your address like this to avoid spam: sexylady AT gmail.com)

Additional entries
- Blog about this giveaway. Leave your blog post url.
- Tweet about this giveaway.
- Facebook about this giveaway.
(You need to leave a comment for each additional entry)

♠ Open worldwide.

♠ Ends Dec 8 2012, Saturday Singapore time.

♠ Winner will be decided by Mr Random.Org and announced a day or two later. Winner must respond to my email of her/his win within 48hours. Otherwise Mr Random.Org will find another winner then.

If you are crazy about me and want to keep coming back, here's how to find me:
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Subscribe via email or feedburner (see sidebar)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Here comes the zippies

It's been a long week for me. Once I hit 1,000 project, I felt like stopping work totally. Sewing bags is a lonely journey. Very much like running. First you start out strong. At the half-way mark, you start to feel the strain but you keep pushing because you know you can do it. 3/4 through, you ask yourself why you punish yourself joining the run. The torture is so great you want to quit. The last leg of the race, you find a sudden surge in energy and you push yourself to finish the race.

I'm now at the 3/4 mark.

This was a bitter sweet week for me. Bitter because I found sewing so difficult. I was like a child refusing to do my homework. I kept seeing darkness everywhere I turned. Yet I had to keep going deeper into the tunnel because that's the only way out. Sweet because I've sold a few of my Christmas stock so that took some pressure off me. I've managed to sell enough to pay for rent at my 9-days VivoCity craft market. Which in turn turned bitter for me because all the money I've made so far won't go to me. Not one cent. You see what I mean? But that's how the biz is. Hopefully I won't be disappointed with my sale at VivoCity.

So, I'm not going to spend this whole post complaining to you. After all I'm a big girl and I went into this biz with my eyes open.

DARKNESS


OUT OF THE DARKNESS

I made some zippy wristlets. I really dreaded making these because I've made so many in the past and it's like eating too much cake.

C-A-K-E.


Yay. Glad I did it. Now it's over. Don't my wristlets look relieved?


I made 6 mamas wristlets. If these sell really well, I'm never making the regular size again. Hahahaha.


Here are the glorious 16. Go to www.projectsbyjane.com if you want to take a closer look. I mostly used old favourite fabric. Oh, most of my old favourite fabric are running out. You know what that means? I get to buy new favourite fabric next year!

This is all I made this whole week. Quite disappointed. I think I have 1 more week of sewing before I'll stop and take care of the nitty gritties.


Oh, remember my 1,000th project - the quilted bag above? I've sold it. (thank you J) I know a few of you think I should keep it (my girl included). But you know what? Before I made the bag, I did ask myself if I would sell it and I thought about it and decided I would. It's not that I'm not sentimental about reaching the 1,000th project milestone. I am. But I thought wouldn't it be great if I manage to sell it? And I had a buyer! I was so freaking thrilled. So don't cry for me. I will go on to make many more bags. The 1,000th bag was not the end of a journey for me. It's the beginning of a new journey which I have yet to start on.

Oh, please come back on Monday. I have a surprise for you.

I'm attending this partay: Sew Many Ways
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