Hats now available at the Smithsonian National Zoo!

I am SO excited to announce that a selection of my hats are on sale this holiday season at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. for their Zoo Lights celebration!

This is doubly awesome because my husband and I went on one of our first dates to the National Zoo!

I won’t be back east this winter, but if any of you are and take pictures for me I’ll be sure to make it worth your while (free hat? bunch of free patterns?)

For more info on the National Zoo and the Zoo Lights exhibit you can check out the Smithsonian website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/

Crochet your Christmas Stockings

When each of my brothers and I were born, my awesome mom used her mad cross-stitching skills to make us each a custom Christmas stocking. So when I got married I decided I wanted to make my husband and I Christmas stocking too. Since I’m a miserable cross-stitcher, I decided to do the one thing I could do and crochet our stockings.

Now, this was before I started Sweet Kiwi Crochet, and I made a dumb mistake on my husbands sock. I thought to myself “this sock would be even MORE awesome if it was lined!” and then proceeded to try to sew a lining into it. I realized I had no idea what I was doing about 1/2″ of the way around and tried to unpick it, but I couldn’t get it all out. I ended up with a big ugly piece of material sewn to the inside of the sock.

While this may not bug most people, it drove me crazy for 3 years. Luckily I only made this mistake on 1 stocking and still had 1 good one. This year I FINALLY decided to make a new one, and I thought I’d share the pattern that I used with you!

I wanted the new Christmas stocking to match the one I would be keeping around. I had made the stocking out of a free pattern I found online, but after several internet searches I couldn’t find the exact hexagon pattern.

SO, I’m going to share the hexagon pattern I used, and then link to a pattern on Ravelry that gives instructions on assembling the hexagons. You can really use any Hexagon pattern that you like, and they can be any size! For reference, my hexagons were 5″ across at their widest width, and the finished stocking measured 24″ long at it’s longest measurement. Here’s a crappy picture of the finished product:

CH 3 counts as first DC in each round. Join with a slip stitch at the top of each CH 3 at end of each round.

Round 1: CH 4 (or start with Magic Circle and chain 3), DC 11 times in 4th st from hook. (12)

Round 2: CH 3, DC in same stitch, CH 1. [DC 2 times, CH] in each st around. (24 DC, 12 CH 1)

Round 3: This round is worked in the CH 1 spaces from previous round. CH 4 (counts as first DC, CH 1). DC 3 times in next space. *DC 3 times in next space, CH 1, DC 3 times in next space*. Repeat from * to * 4 times. Be sure to only CH 1 between every other set of CH 3. DC 2 times in last space. (36 DC, 6 CH 1)

Round 4: This round is worked between the CH 3 clusters of the previous round, whether there was a CH 1 there or not. CH 3, DC 2 times in same space, CH 1, DC 3 times in same space, DC 3 times in next space. *[DC 3 times, CH 1, DC 3 times] in next space, DC 3 times in next space*. Repeat from * to * around. (54 DC, 6 CH 1 spaces)

Finish off and tuck in your end!

 And here is the link to the pattern on Ravelry for constructing your sock:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stuffable-stockings

Obviously I just used one color, but you can do whatever you like!

Now, keep in mind, this pattern is FREE on the link I’ve provided on Ravelry. This is a vintage pattern that you don’t have to pay for, but some people are trying to sell it on Craftsy.

I know, NOT a great picture, but in my defense, we haven’t started decorating for Christmas yet!! Also, I need to be work on my photography skills!

Happy Black Friday!

I hope all my USA friends had a great Thanksgiving! To celebrate Black Friday I am offering a coupon code in my Etsy and Ravelry pattern shops! From 9:00-1:00 Friday morning, enjoy 50% all patterns by using coupon code ‘BlackFriday50’ in either shop! After 1:00 you can still enjoy 30% off all patterns by using coupon code ‘BlackFriday30’ in either shop! This will be my LAST coupon code until next year, so stock up for Christmas now!

http://www.sweetkiwicrochet.etsy.com

http://www.ravelry.com/stores/sweet-kiwi-crochet-kandice-oster-designs

How to get cheap yarn!

Today I did something awesome!

I went to Joann’s and came home with approx. $300 worth of yarn for $175.

After posting about it on Facebook and getting some interest I decided to look up the exact coupon policies on the Michaels, Joann’s and Hoby Lobby websites and found that none of them really had one! Joann’s explains their coupon policy for ordering online (http://www.joann.com/faq/) but doesn’t say anything about using coupons in the store. (If you are able to find any of these stores coupon policies on their website please let me know so I can link to them directly!) So, I thought I would share my tricks with you! If you’ve been buying things from craft stores for very long you may know all of this, but for those that don’t, this could save you a lot of money!

The following are the coupon policies at the 3 major craft stores in my area, Hobby Lobby, Michaels and JoAnns, as I’ve been able to use them over the last 3 years. Double check with you stores customer service department, I can’t be held responsible if you’re store is different, but this has been consistent in both states I’ve lived in!

Disclaimer: Check with your local store before making you first purcahse. I do not, and have never, work for any of these stores and am not speaking on their behalf. I am sharing this information strictly as a consumer and to help other crocheters. I cannot be held liable if your store has a different policy.

Hobby Lobby: Most strict. Does NOT accept competitor coupons, only the 40% off coupon they offer on their website and their mobile phone app. Does NOT price match. Only accepts one coupon per transaction.

Michaels: Does price match if you show them the current ad from another store, and if they carry the exact same item. They DO accept competitor coupons, but will only accept 1 per transaction. I will often take my husband and just have him do an additional transaction and they have no problem with that.

Joann Fabric: BEST coupon policy! Does price match if you show them the ad from another store, and if they carry the exact same item. They DO accept competitor coupons, and will accept more then 1 per transaction! I use my phone apps to show coupons, but they will let me use any of the coupons I have from all 3 stores once all on the same transaction. If you print off coupons, they will let you use as many as you print off. Most stores require that each coupon be different (you can’t print off 40 of the same coupon and use them all at once), but you’ll want to ask about this, as I did go to a store one time where a cashier told me that this WAS allowed. I have NOT tried it.

So here is how I got my awesome buy today: I went to Joanns. Caron yarn was already on sale, $2 per skein off. I used the 60% off (an unheard of discount!) and 40% Joanns coupons, 1 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon, and a 50% Michaels coupon. After all THOSE discounts were taken off I was able to use a 25% off your entire purchase, including sale items coupon from Michaels to take the price of the Caron yarn down even further.

 So, that’s how you do it! If you have questions, it’s always best to ask your local store, but I can try to answer if you need!

Edit: Seriously be sure to check with you store before you go in planning a big purchase. One perosn just informed me that her Joanns location would not let her use a 25% off your entire purchase coupon from Michaels. I have been able to use this exact coupon from Michaels at Joanns locations in 2 states in the last 6 months, so it may vary by store manager. I’ve also heard from other customers who WERE able to use this coupon.

Upcoming shows and other news

What a crazy summer it has been! I’ve been a bit MIA for the last 4 weeks, but this weekend I will be surfacing once again!

This SATURDAY, August 11th, I will be participating at Craft Lake City at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake. I can’t tell you exactly where my booth will be, but you’ll want to wander around and see every thing anyway! It’s an awesome show, so be sure to come out between 12:00 and 10:00 if you’re in the area!

Then SUNDAY, August 12th, will mark my first appearance at the Park Silly Sunday Market on Main Street in Park City. I will be on Main Street between 7th & 9th street, ,so come say hi! Market runs from 10:00 – 5:00!

I will be going underground again until Labor Day weekend, when I will be back at the Gardners Market in Logan, and my second appearance at Park Silly Sunday again this year! In the meantime, I am always taking orders by email, and hats are always available at the Quilted Bear in Ogden!

Please let me know if you have any questions!

~Kandice

Selling at a Craft Show, Part 3b: What do I take?

The “Selling at a Craft Show” series is intended to help those interested in selling any handmade good, whether it be knitting or crochet, paper airplanes and jewelry. Find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3a here.

Below is a list of things to consider bringing to a craft show! Customize it as needed! 

Booth Set Up Stuff

Your products

Table(s)

Chairs – Consider ones with padding for comfort.

Table Clothes – Don’t have any? Try buying a Full size flat sheet from Walmart. They have a variety of colors, and the full is long enough to hang down to the floor in front so that you can store boxes under the table and out of view.

Canopy – For outdoor shows. Make sure there are no color requirements.

Weights/Stakes – It is always  a good idea, and sometimes required, that you stake or weight down your canopy in case of wind. If you weigh it down, be sure to bring rope or bungee cords

Banner & Bungee Cords

Any Display Props needed

Extra signs – If you’re going to be taking credit cards, it helps to have a sign letting people know you do. Same with taking special orders, make sure people know you’re willing.

Mirror – If you’re product is something that the customer will want to try on before buying.

Easel – To hold your mirror. 

Payment/Purchasing

Cash box or fanny pack – make sure you have a place to keep your money!

Cash – Always bring lots of small bills to make change for people. I usually bring $100 in $1, $5 and $10 to start with.

Credit Card Processing Equipment – Taking credit cards can be very good for your business. If you have an iPhone or iPad with 3G capabilities, I recommend Square.

Receipt booklet

Paper bags – I put stickers on mine with my business info.

Inventory List – This is the easiest way to keep track of what you’ve sold, just cross it out when a customers buys. 

Odds n’ Ends

Pens

Clipboard

Tape Measurer

Spare tags

Tape

Scissors

Business Cards

Calculator

Ibuprofen

Allergy Medicine

Lotion

Sunscreen

Sun Glasses

Lysol Wipes/Antibacterial HandWash

Paper Towels

Trash Bag(s)

Hammer

Throat Lozinge/Hard Candy – You’ll be surprised at how sore your throat can get after a full day of talking!

Granola Bars/Other Food – Even if you plan on buying food at the show it’s a good idea to have some snacks if hunger hits quickly.

WATER – Especially if the show is outdoors. Bring more than you think you’ll need.

And if you make a craft that you can do while you’re at the show, bring it as well! I get quite a few people that come into my booth to see what I’m crocheting at the moment. It generates interest, and I get a lot of work done! However, you’ll only want to do this if you can do it and freely talk with customers at the same time! If you have to concentrate too much, forget it!

So what do you think, does anyone have anything to add?

 

 

Selling at a Craft Show, Part 3a: I got in! Now what?

The “Selling at a Craft Show” series is intended to help those interested in selling any handmade good, whether it be knitting or crochet, paper airplanes and jewelry. Each post will focus on a different aspect of selling your goods at a craft shows or fairs. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, leave a comment!

So you found a craft show, applied, and got accepted! Congratulations!! Now the real fun can begin!

A lot of work goes into preparing for any craft show. There are a lot of variables to think about, and a lot of planning to do! Start early and you’ll be able to avoid some of the stress and panic that I went through my first time doing a show!

The first thing you’ll want to decide is WHAT you’re going to sell. This may not apply to everyone, but in my opinion, a lot of people try to sell to MUCH variety. If you normally sell a wide variety of product, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to sell them all at the show, or if you’re only going to select a few different things. Figuring this out can take some trial and error at first, but you’ll grow to find what you’re comfortable with and what you can keep up with!

I’ll use my own experience as an example. When I first started crocheting and selling at shows I had a LARGE variety of work; I sold scarves, bags, headbands, slippers and hats. My first month at the farmers market went okay, but I decided I was stretching myself too thin trying to do too much, and that the next time around I would only sell headwear – headbands and hats. I took 5 animal hats the next month, along with a lot of other hats and headbands. The day started out strong, and I sold all 5 animal hats within the first 2 hours. But, because I hadn’t brought more, and there were a lot of other vendors selling regular hats and headbands, things slowed down after those first 2 hours. I decided that the next month I would bring more animal hats, but still continue to do regular hats as well. That 3rd month went better than the 2nd, and I was much better stocked with animal hats. I sold quite a few animal hats, and people seemed to really like them. So I decided to take a gamble the 4th and final month of the market. I would ONLY sell animal hats, and use the time that I wasn’t making regular hats to make many different animals and I would leave all my regular stock at home. It was a gamble because I didn’t have any non-crazy items. If people didn’t like my animal hats, I wouldn’t sell anything at all. I had no backup product. The response on this 4th month was wonderful! I sold more hats than I had sold the previous 3 months combined. As I talked to customers I began to understand that the real difference between the 3rd and 4th months was how my booth looked to customers. Having a booth full of animal hats and regular hats was okay, but having a booth that was just full of a variety of animals was visually appealing to customers, bringing more of them in. Many told me that they had seen my animals in the booth the months before, but hadn’t come in because they could see that I only had 3 different kind. This last month though, I was up to 13 different animals, in sizes from newborn clear up to adult.  

Now, this may not work for everyone. It takes a lot of work to get a booth stocked with items, but taking a gamble on just one thing may not be comfortable for you! After that 2nd month I could have jumped straight to month 4 and only sold animal hats. I would have gotten an extra month of extra income in, but I wasn’t ready to risk my steady income for a chance at more just yet. I did things slow and dipped my toes in the water before I jumped all in. If you have the chance, do the same. Adjust your inventory to what your customers respond to until you find the thing that works for you! If you make a variety of different jewelry, try to find something that makes you unique, and use that to grow your business.

Once you’ve decided WHAT to sell, you can start to prepare for your show:

  • Figure out how you want to set up your booth. I’ve been know to map out my booth in my driveway or living room using masking tape. Or you can draw it out on grid paper. Whatever works for you! You’ll need to know how many tables you will need and where you’re going to put them. Don’t forget to leave room for you (and your helper if you’ll have one, which I highly suggest!). Most shows ask that you remain inside your booth space so that the aisles are clear for customers.

  • Decide out how much product you want to have and start making it! Don’t wait until the last minute, as you’ll have a lot of other details to worry about!

  • Read through all the rules of the show and make sure you are complying with them! Some shows have height restrictions for booth walls, other have signage rules, and all have payment deadlines! Make sure you don’t miss anything or you risk extra stress the day of if you have to make last minute changes.

  • If you will need to travel for a show, make sure you book your hotel early. There is a big show in central Utah that people travel from around the country for. Some people don’t get a hotel early enough and end up staying over an hour away! Make your reservations early and you won’t have to worry.

  • Try to arrange to have someone join you at the show. If you’re on your own, you’ll find that bathroom breaks and food runs can cost you a lot of money! Having someone there to back you up can be very helpful, and they can provide comic relief if needed! Make sure that the perosn you bring is friendly and open, and idealy, someone that knows about your craft. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but having someone that can answer customer’s questions if you have to step away can save sales! In my experience, it’s also best to have someone of the same gender as you! When my husband helps me out and I step away, he’s told me that customers walk by more often, but the second I come back customers start to come inside the booth again. It happens every time he helps. But when my mom comes, that never happens. My husband still makes some sales, and he’s a great helper, but having a man in a crochet booth seems to drive customers away!

  • Make sure you have adequate transportation! You don’t want to find out the day before the show that everything you need to take won’t fit into your compact car. Make sure you know all the big things your packing and how much space you’re going to need!

  • If you need to special order anything, make sure you do it early! Business cards and banners can take up to 2 weeks just to be delivered, and that’s not counting processing time! Be sure to get on these things early so that they arrive in plenty of time! I recommend using www.vistaprint.com! They have a lot of premade business cards and banners that you can put your information in to, or you can customize one yourself! They also have a lot of other fun stuff you can order for your business, at great prices! (No, they’re not paying me to say this, I really do get my stuff from them)

Part 3b will focus on the actual things to bring to a craft show, so check back Thursday for a comprehensive list, and good luck on preparing for your show!

Selling at a Craft Show, Part 2: How to Apply

The “Selling at a Craft Show” series is intended to help those interested in selling any handmade good, whether it be knitting or crochet, paper airplanes and jewelry. Each post will focus on a different aspect of selling your goods at a craft shows or fairs. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, leave a comment!

So you read Part 1 of this series on how to find a craft show, now what!? First thing, check out the rules for applications for all shows. Some shows will require pictures, others may require actual sample products. Many shows also require an appliction fee, which can range from $10 to $100. 

 If the show you really want to do is juried (meaning not everyone that applies is accepted), I recommend applying for a second or even third show if you can afford it. You can also decline to participate in a show if you’re accepted to more than you think you can handle, but once an appliction deadline passes there is no going back.

If your application requires pictures, be sure to have the best pictures you can! The only thing the jury or market manager will have to judge your product on is the pictures you provide, so you want to be sure they show your product in the best light possible. I always have a professional photograph my products. If you can’t get your products to a professional, find a photo studio. Grab a kid (yours or a friends) and head to JC Pennies or the Walmart photo studio. In the town that I live in there’s a studio that will do a photo session with you and give you a cd with the edited images for $79. That may seem like a lot, but remember that you can use the photo’s for more than this one appliction.

When it comes to filling out your appliction, be sure to feel it out completely! Fill out all the sections, and be sure to send in any supplemental things that they ask for, and of course, be sure that you get your appliction in on time!

And what if you don’t get accepted to a show? Don’t get to disappointed! Many juried shows do not let new applicants in their first time around. Some vendors with really great products will have to apply 3-5 times before they get into a show. Some juries will provide feedback on your items and give you ideas to help you get in in the future, and others will not. And when you get frustrated, think about it this way – Many great vendors don’t get into a market because their craft category is over saturated. The Jewelry and Fiber Arts groups can fill up fast, where as the quilting and woodworking groups may fill up slower. If you’re in one of the groups that fills up fast, you don’t want them to let everyone in. If they did the competition for customers would be high, and your chances of making a profit would go down, so really they did you a favor! Now you can go elsewhere and hopefully make a profit at a less saturated market!

So good luck with your applications! If you have any questions, leave a comment!

Selling at a Craft Show, Part 1: Where do I find a show!?

The “Selling at a Craft Show” series is intended to help those interested in selling any handmade good, whether it be knitting or crochet, paper airplanes and jewelry. Each post will focus on a different aspect of selling your goods at a craft shows or fairs. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, leave a comment!

I decided to time this series to help people with this years Christmas shows! You may be thinking it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, but it’s definitely not!

Most Christmas shows start the Thanksgiving weekend, and applications are starting to go out now! Wait to long and you could miss out on some great opportunities!

So now the big question, how do you find these shows!? I’ve found that the most reliable way is by word of mouth. Find other people in your area that have been selling homemade goods for a while. They don’t have to do the same craft as you, in fact, I find that it’s better if they don’t! People are much more willing to give you advice and share their knowledge if you’re not competing in the same category as they are.

Start with Facebook. You can simply ask in your status bar if any of your friends sell things themselves, or if they know anyone that does. Home-businesses are growing like crazy right now, so it shouldn’t take you long to get in contact with some other like-minded people. Send them a short email, or private Facebook message, introducing yourself and what you do, and asking if they would be willing to to recommend any shows in your area that they’ve had success at. This is how I got information on shows my first year, and I was never turned away. You’ll be suprised at how happy people are to help!

No success on Facebook!? There are many other ways to find out about shows! Talk to your friends, check your local Craigslist listings, or google the name of your town and the words ‘Craft Show’ or ‘Craft Fair’. There are a couple other websites that can be extremely helpful as well! www.managemymarket.com is great for finding farmers markets in your area! You do have to register, but it’s free. Many farmers markets only let you apply through this site, which also makes it very convenient. www.festivals-and-shows.com is another website that has some pro’s and con’s. It seems to be better for certain areas of the country than others, so you can try it for your area and see how it works for you! http://www.alotofcraftshows.com/ has a comprehensive list of craft shows for all 50 states.

With so many shows to choose from, how do you pick just one?! There are a LOT of things to take into consideration, here are the 4 I think are the most important:

    •  $$: For those who don’t have a lot of spare cash lying around, the cost of the show can be the most important factor. You want (and probably need) to make a profit. If it’s your first show, I would not recommend spending more than $100 on a show. Always be sure that you have enough product to make a profit after your costs.
    • Date: Make sure that you’re completely commitment free the day of the show, but also in the days leading up to the show. You also want to make sure that the show is at a good time. Weekends are always best. For Christmas, the Friday & Saturday after Thanksgivings are always GREAT days for a show. You may be requried to set up the day before the show, and you’ll need some time to prepare your exhibit, so be sure that you’re not signing up for a show during a time that you won’t be able to enjoy! This should be fun, not addition stress.
    • Accessibility: This applies to 2 different things –  The ease of getting to the show for you, and for customers and how easy it is for people to find out about the show through advertising or reputation. You don’t want to do a show too far away from home, unless you can afford the extra travel and accomodation costs. Be sure to factor these into the cost of the show before committing! You also want to take into consideration how easy or hard it was for you to find out about this show. Will other people know about it? The best show will be a complete disaster if no one knows about it, or if they can’t get to it!
    • Other Vendors: This is something a lot of people don’t think about until it becomes a problem. For me, I’ve found that selling my hats I do MUCH better at all-handmade markets then at ones that combine handmade and imported vendors. Shows that have all handmade products can attract different customers then those who also sale imported things. I’ve also found that juried markets are better for me. If a market is juried it usually means that you send in samples of your products, or pictures of you products, and the managers choose who will get a booth. This not only means that the quality of the wares at the market is better, but also that there won’t be 10 other people selling the same product as you.

So what do you think? What advice do YOU have for finding craft shows to sell at? Any success stories, or cautionary tales for others to learn from?