Friday, October 21, 2011

the sweetest dress, a helpful site, and the perfect hoops

florecitas embroidered baby dress by elizabethpalmer
As you may have already suspected, a lot of my future posts will be concerned with embroidery - supplies, stitches, experimental pieces, items for my (future) shop, interesting embroidered pieces I run across, and so on. I do so love embroidery :) Possibly my favorite thing about it is its versatility. The possibilities really are limitless. A beautiful piece I discovered earlier today is the florecitas embroidered baby dress from elizabethpalmer on Etsy. I love the bright colors, perky flowers and detailing. How perfect for a little girl on a warm summer's day or in early fall with a little pair of leggings. And this is only one example from an extensive collection, creative needlework embellishing every piece.

If you're interested in learning how to embroider or in expanding your practical knowledge of embroidery, I highly recommend you visit Mary Corbet's extremely helpful site: Needle 'N Thread. It has free patterns, tips, pictures, an Ask & Share section, how-to videos (my personal favorite) for stitches and various projects, and lots more. Honestly, if it were not for the how-to videos I probably wouldn't be able to do much more than a running stitch, seeing as I can't decipher stitch instructions from illustrations and pictures worth a darn. If you really like her site, Mary Corbet also has a Facebook page where she will keep you updated on current projects, new articles, reviews, videos, and great giveaways.

In my own little neck o' the woods I am in dire need of embroidery supplies, specifically wooden hoops and a greater variety of fabric. I have quite a bit of floss, I guess, but is there really such a thing as having too much floss? I think not. So we'll add it to the list as well :)

Frank A. Edmunds & Co. embroidery hoops,
available from 12" in diameter down to 3"
My quest for the perfect hoop began several weeks ago. I was looking for a company who makes hoops out of solid wood with quality metal hardware but with not too high of a price tag. Easy peasy, right? Ha. I searched from one end of Google to the other and found a lot of wonderful hoops along the way; the problem is that hardly any of them are within my budget and if they are, they tend to be produced in places like England, meaning shipping and handling charges at least double the initial cost. After a week or two of searching I recalled having seen a solid wood hoop at Hobby Lobby hanging on a hook all by its lonesome, but I couldn't remember the brand. I went back to Hobby Lobby as soon as I could and discovered Frank A. Edmunds & Co. I inquired about HL's in-store stock of Edmunds hoops, as I had seen only one on display, but the department manager told me she's only allowed to keep one on hand at a time. So I decided to order directly from the company.

I found the Edmunds & Co. website and discovered it is a small business in Chicago that has been manufacturing embroidery and sewing supplies (among quite a few other things) for over fifty years. I had a couple questions about their hoops, and while the website is functional it is a little slim on detailed descriptions, so I called the number at the bottom of the page. I was immediately on the phone with a very nice lady who told me the gentleman who could answer my questions was out, but she would take a message and have him call me back within half an hour. And he did! He was extremely friendly and helpful, answering all of my questions and telling me that if I ever had any more to please call back and he would be happy to help me. I don't care that much about a company's level of techy-ness, but the quality of the customer service will always be very important to me, and in this case it was so outstanding I wanted to place an order then and there. Reality being what it is I had to wait a bit, buuut...

It was worth the wait and I was able to order Edmunds hoops earlier today!! Can you tell I'm excited? :) I purchased a selection of 4", 6" and 8" wooden hoops, as I think that will be a nice variety of sizes to start with. I can't wait til they get here and I will be one step closer to creating things.

Good night, all, and cheerful dreams!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

blog transitions: change is in the air

Good evening! I've been making quite a few changes to ye olde blog today and after much deliberation (okay, agonizing) and endless tweaking I'm pretty happy with the results. As you can probably tell, I've discontinued the use of the name "unebellevie" and am going with "hoopsters". An explanation is probably in order :)

I love to embroider and would love even more to sell my embroidery on Etsy. I love all of the nifty little things involved, from the bits of fabric to the colorful floss to, of course, the hoops. And something that is so great about embroidery is that it's not only the finished products that are a delight to have around, but the "ingredients" themselves. I enjoy seeing hoops in a basket or pinned to my bulletin board, reorganizing fabric on a shelf or in a drawer, and peeking at my floss collection when my cat is not around.

I know the word "hoopster" is technically slang for a basketball player, but I also think of it as "a person who collects hoops" or possibly "a decorative piece of [art/needlework] hung in a hoop" :) Regardless, I like the sound of it and have adopted it as my new Etsy shop/blog name. My only problem is that is taken. What to do, what to do.

Sorry about the crummy picture, but to the left is an experimental Art Nouveau piece I embroidered. I've been playing around with different ways to transfer designs as well as some different design styles and stitches. This one was a test run but I hope to stock up some pieces for my shop soon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stopping in to say "Hello!" & Changes on the horizon

Hello, dear readers! I am popping in to let you know that the format and name of my Etsy shop and blog will be changing very soon. This has certainly been a year full of experiments, some successful, some... not so much. However, everything that has happened has been a growing experience, which is what really matters, right? :)

A few of the things I have learned are as follows:

>Unless they are extremely obvious/familiar, using foreign words/phrases as an integral part of your brand isn't the best idea. I learned this the hard way. But, c'est la vie (hehe). Thankfully, Etsy is allowing shops to change their names October 18th/tonight/tomorrow, so I am eagerly awaiting further instructions, as they haven't told anyone the exact time this feature will become available.

>I feel a little guilty about this one, but... I discovered I really don't like taking pictures of things. Soo, while I will still have a small shop section of vintage items (at least temporarily), my shop's main focus will be the sale of items made by me (more details later). I understand that photography is and will always be an integral part of selling on Etsy, I just don't want it to be the only thing I do, if that makes sense. I have a persistent desire to create, make something with my hands, explore my imagination, and challenge myself creatively. A drastic shift in focus is required, so that's what I'm gonna do.

>Networking is fun! Though, like everything else, it requires moderation. I have a huge respect for people who blog every day or several times a week. Some of them managing a Facebook fan page at the same time. I honestly don't see how they do it. I guess what I'm saying is I don't have the multi-tasking skills to do it. Or maybe a shop, blog and FB page were too much too fast. Either way, I've chucked the Facebook fan page (as I'm not that big of a fan of Facebook anyway) and I'm keeping the blog and becoming more active in the shop. Choosing to spend my time trying to market instead of developing my shop and brand was not the savviest thing I've ever done ;)
Gabriel exploring his own creativity with finger paints :)

>I really do love Etsy. "Success" or "failure" aside, I love having an Etsy shop and taking part in the Etsy community. It's fun, encouraging, interesting, and inspiring; there truly is a place for everyone. Not to mention the practical side, in that it's the most user-friendly online market I've come across yet, whether you're a buyer or seller. I'm not just trying to put a plug in for Etsy; it's simply that it has opened up new possibilities for me, financially and creatively. I love being at home with my son, and my time with him and my husband is precious to me. However, I believe it is important to maintain personal interests and hobbies, and Etsy allows me to do this on a larger and (if I'm going to be honest) a more fulfilling level.

There are other things I've learned, of course, but those are the four that came to mind immediately :)

Something big (for us :) that has happened since my last post is... my husband found a new job!! *hip-hip-hooray!* He has a Bachelor's in Social Work and recently started working at TFI Family Services, Inc., which specializes in reintegrating children with their parents, foster care and adoption. This was a big deal for us because we live in a pretty rural area where turn-over in social service jobs is low. We were starting to wonder if he was ever going to find a job in his chosen field- and then it finally happened. He loves it. The only down-side is he has a rather lengthy commute every day to and from work, so we are planning on trying to move closer to his job within a year. Hmm, we'll see how that works out.

Watch for changes, and I am always open to feedback, of both kinds ;) So please, if you see a change that really doesn't work for you, or notice something you like a bit better than formerly, let me know!