Saturday, 29 November 2014

Half Price Clearance Sale


I've been doing a full inventory stock check these last few weeks and come across a whole realm of wonderful products that I had forgotten about. You see they were the unique one off items that I developed for my shop when I first started , they were the inspiration for my shop. My knitted bags , messenger bags and wristlet bags were fully lined with recycled felt that I made from old wool sweaters. It made me feel so good that I coud incorporate the recycled felts in to my knitted items.  I sold quite a few of these bags on Etsy straight away , but I feel that Etsy has changed a little over the last year or so and does not favour the unique / one offs , favouring those items that sell time and time again instead.

I do want them to go to a good home though , not just sitting in one of my plastic boxes!

So this weekend (and its nothing to do with it being Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend) I have decided to offer them to you half price !  I've added a few other one off products in to my clearance sale too.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Revamping my web site TheFeminineTouch.org.uk

I had been talking to one of my knitting colleagues about the success of her web site, and she told me of an instance where all of a sudden she stopped getting visitors to her web site. Before that day she was getting at least one order a day from her web site and then nothing. So what did she do? 

She contacted her web site account manager and asked for advise. They looked around and found something had been changed which affected the whole thing......... it got me thinking.

You see , even though I had a web site, I have only had one enquiry from it and when I checked through Google Analytics the number of visits my little web site was having was abysmal :(

So I thought, I need to contact my account manager, see if they can see what I'm doing wrong with my web site. 

The reply was really helpful and made me wish I had contacted them earlier.


I'll break it down into blocks


1. SEO - metatagging 


I can see that you have worked on your SEO, however it can take a minimum of 6 months to make an impact with your SEO and climb the rankings of search engines. Therefore for some more advice on your SEO I'd suggest taking a look at our fantastic guides.

I can see that you have filled out some meta information, but more could be added to help improve your search ranking. Just looking at your page Meta Info, not all of the fields have been filled in. Make sure to fill in <TITLE> Tag:, and the Metatag Description: and not just the Metatag Keywords.

If you had a shop set up within your website, then you could set up metatags for each of your products, which again helps for SEO purposes. 


 So what have I done? - set up products in my shop, currently about 40. I have also completed ALL the meta data , Title , Tags and Description for all my products and all the web pages. 

http://www.thefemininetouch.org.uk/thefemininetouchshop/

 2. Social media

 I would also advise using social media to build a more public personality for your business. This way you can reach a wider audience and connect with other businesses who can help you grow. Why not take a look at our guides below on how to include Facebook in your site, as well as Twitter and maybe even Pinterest!

 So what have I done? I have added twitter , facebook and pinterest widgets to my web site side bar so they get seen on all pages. I have also added some of my pinterest style guide boards to the home page.

3. Blog

  A good way to keep people coming back is perhaps setting up a blog within your website. Maybe post something one a week, to keep your readers interested and coming back to see what you have been up too. I see that you have one with blogspot, but you can create your own blog within Create. That way the numbers being directed to your website thefemininetouch.org.uk should increase. 

So what have I done ? nothing for now. I blog on a regular basis anyway here, maybe I need to make my web site more prominant on here.

4. Professional image banner 

Maybe you could add a professional image banner to your homepage? This creates a nice motion banner on your page, which gives customers something interesting to look at, as it is not static. If you would be interested in adding this, please see the guide.

So what have I done? I have set up a banner , taken some of my products and re-photographed them , added some text and made them the size they needed to be for the banner. 

http://www.thefemininetouch.org.uk/thefemininetouchshop/cat_917182-Winter-Woolies.html
http://www.thefemininetouch.org.uk/thefemininetouchshop/cat_917077-Fairisle-Home-Knits.html
http://www.thefemininetouch.org.uk/thefemininetouchshop/cat_916995-Felt-Home-Decorations.html
 









5. Side bar images 

Your images on the side column, which links you to your Etsy store. Instead of it being red, I may make the purple to go with the rest of the theme on your website, as it looks a little out of place. 



So what have I done? completely the opposite , I have added a red theme into my banner so it blends in more.

In my next blog I'll tell you about other features I have added to my web site. In the meantime, please browse away.

 

Monday, 10 November 2014

A beginners perspective

 Inspired by my yarn bombing knitting colleagues that I met in York a couple of weeks ago I decided to really have a go at publishing my knitting patterns on line. 

All the knitting I do for my Etsy shop is made up from little snippets of patterns and information from elsewhere , I make some scribbles so I can make another if I need to. I had formally written up some patterns , had them for sale on Etsy but no one had purchased them. I didn't know if they worked or not.

I was told that Ravelry was the place for getting your patterns tested by both the experienced and inexperienced knitters. Great I thought , that's one way round my dilemma. So off I trotted and posted a few of the patterns I had already made on to the ravelry testing forum.

I then went to work on a new pattern, something simple I was told , something that anyone could knit up as a Christmas present using up an odd ball of yarn.

So I came up with my headband pattern , such a simple knit I thought and such a simple pattern. I put it to the testing forum on Ravelry and I also asked my Craft Britannia team mates on Etsy. 

Jill from Fabrilushus piped up saying she could only just knit , could she test it out from a beginners perspective. 

What a great idea ! so i sent her the pattern , answered a couple of her questions and off she went.

She now has finished the headband and this is what she says


"Anyway, i am finally finished! I know you have got it listed now anyway and that it is doing well but I thought you would still like my beginners perspective.

It is a great beginners pattern! Very easy knitting, grows very quickly and gives a lovely effect. I really like it. I did find the finishing off a little tricky but managed with no mishaps. 




 I found that I couldn't actually get my 3rd needle through the stitches whilst they were on 2 needles so I got around it by transferring each individual stitch on to the working needle and then knitting them together! The tieing off bit to pull it together was fine.




I think the pattern does make sense for a beginner and I love the photos.

I only have one comment where I think you could add something and it is purley for Numpty beginners like me...... you mention that if you wish to have a narrower band to just reduce the number of stitches. I think it may be worth saying that it must be an odd number of stitches otherwise the pattern will not work. I did not know that until you told me and suspect that other beginners won't.

Thank you so much for letting me test your pattern. Sorry it took an age! I am attaching photos for you. The ones of me are terrible as they are selfies with my phone but I did want you to see that the finished article is perfectly wearable. Even makes a good mini cowl and I have actually worn it like that with my coat this weekend. It works well if you don't want lots of bulk" 




 If you want to try out this same pattern , then it can be purchased here 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Angel Cable

I came across a cable pattern called "Angel Cable" a few days ago and I was intrigued to try.  I have worked with cables for a few years now , just straight forward cables going up and down your work , twisting in and out of stitches, but this cable intrigued me because it was incorporated into some clever stitch increases and decreases.

I wanted to adapt the pattern I found though , wanted to make purl columns narrower , wanted a finished edge to each side, maybe with the potential of making something like a headband with it.

So I decided to use a little bit of software I have just bought. Nice and cheerful Interwined Studio can create charts out of written instructions or can work out the written instruction from a chart. Either way its pretty nifty and I wanted to play :)

I won't go into the ins and outs of what I did , but just to say , adapting the original pattern was a lot easier than knitting the piece and nearly as enjoyable (remember I am a computer geek).

So here's the finished results.  And yes , I did adapt the knitted piece beyond the pattern. I got carried away you see.






and for those of you interested here is the pattern , both the chart and written instructions




Cast on 26 stitches
Row 1 (rs): k9, p8, k9
Row 2 (ws): p9, k8, p9
Row 3 (rs): k7, ssk, p3, m1, p2, m1, p3, k2tog, k7
Row 4 (ws): p8, k3, p1, k2, p1, k3, p8
Row 5 (rs): k6, ssk, p3, m1, k1, p2, k1, m1, p3, k2tog, k6
Row 6 (ws): p7, k3, p2, k2, p2, k3, p7
Row 7 (rs): k5, ssk, p3, m1, k2, p2, k2, m1, p3, k2tog, k5
Row 8 (ws): p6, k3, p3, k2, p3, k3, p6
Row 9 (rs): k4, ssk, p3, m1, k3, p2, k3, m1, p3, k2tog, k4
Row 10 (ws): p5, k3, p4, k2, p4, k3, p5
Row 11 (rs): k3, ssk, p3, m1, k4, p2, k4, m1, p3, k2tog, k3
Row 12 (ws): p4, k3, p5, k2, p5, k3, p4
Row 13 (rs): k2, ssk, p3, m1, k5, p2, k5, m1, p3, k2tog, k2
Row 14 (ws): p3, k3, p6, k2, p6, k3, p3
Row 15 (rs): k1, ssk, p3, m1, k6, p2, k6, m1, p3, k2tog, k1
Row 16 (ws): p2, k3, p7, k2, p7, k3, p2
Row 17 (rs): ssk, p3, m1, k7, p2, k7, m1, p3, k2tog
Row 18 (ws): p1, k3, p8, k2, p8, k3, p1
Row 19 (rs): k1, p3, c8b, p2, c8f, p3, k1
Row 20 (ws): p1, k3, p8, k2, p8, k3, p1
Row 21 (rs): k1, m1, p3, k2tog, k6, p2, k6, ssk, p3, m1, k1
Row 22 (ws): p2, k3, p7, k2, p7, k3, p2
Row 23 (rs): k2, m1, p3, k2tog, k5, p2, k5, ssk, p3, m1, k2
Row 24 (ws): p3, k3, p6, k2, p6, k3, p3
Row 25 (rs): k3, m1, p3, k2tog, k4, p2, k4, ssk, p3, m1, k3
Row 26 (ws): p4, k3, p5, k2, p5, k3, p4
Row 27 (rs): k4, m1, p3, k2tog, k3, p2, k3, ssk, p3, m1, k4
Row 28 (ws): p5, k3, p4, k2, p4, k3, p5
Row 29 (rs): k5, m1, p3, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, ssk, p3, m1, k5
Row 30 (ws): p6, k3, p3, k2, p3, k3, p6
Row 31 (rs): k6, m1, p3, k2tog, k1, p2, k1, ssk, p3, m1, k6
Row 32 (ws): p7, k3, p2, k2, p2, k3, p7
Row 33 (rs): k7, m1, p3, k2tog, p2, ssk, p3, m1, k7
Row 34 (ws): p8, k3, p1, k2, p1, k3, p8
Row 35 (rs): k8, m1, p2, p2tog, p2, p2tog, p2, m1, k8
Row 36 (ws): p9, k8, p9



Sunday, 19 October 2014

Yarn Bonkyness

Just had my very first experience of meeting some other Etsy knitters off line , Yes ! in person , they are not virtual friends anymore , but real life ones.

Em from AllNeedlesGreat

and 

Nicola from TwinkKnits 



It started a few weeks ago where I interrupted an on line craft britannia chat where 2 crafters were talking about meeting up in York for lunch. I butted in to say "hey" I live near York , can I come along too? 

It wasn't until a few days later when I realised that the 3 of us were knitters and I thought we MUST do something a little bit special , not just talk about Etsy or just about crafting , but do something knitting related. That's where our yarn bonkyness started.

But first we needed ......... cake


 and to plonk one of my tea cosies on the small one pot tea pot (can you tell it was designed for something a little bit bigger , lol).  It kind of plops about a bit , ha ha.

The cake was delish. I had the carrot cake , ate the lot as it sounded so healthy.

We chatted around knitting patterns , our web sites , selling wholesale , selling knitting patterns , our favourite yarns , headbands , tea cosies , getting freebies and cake ! 

Nicola showed off one her crochet bags (yes , not just a knitter)



and we moved on to the Museum Gardens eyeing up the right place to do our yarn bonkyness. 

Well , why do I call our Yarn bombing antics "yarn bonkyness"? you might ask. 

Well firstly Nicola , when she was typing this into her phone , her phone turned it into "yarn bonking" ooops , so that sort of stuck when we talk about it and secondly , because it was our very first time , with no prep work , no knowledge of where we were going to do it and no knowledge of what each of us brought along , then it was all a bit bonkers.

We picked a place just outside the gardens on the side of the river , with people walking past and boats mooring up yipes.                          


and we hung our tributes up on the railings.



a mix of femininity from me TheFeminineTouch , pink chunky knitted lace and pretty chunky flowers. 

Funky knitted foodstuffs from TwinkKnit Nicola and traditional knitting swatches and pretty bunting from All Needles Great Em. 

and will there be a next time .......... we hope so ! stay tuned !







Saturday, 11 October 2014

European shops on Etsy show off their kids stuff

Beautiful items here on Etsy for kids , from new born baby upwards. Here's just a small collection from European shops

Monday, 22 September 2014

Hebridean Tweed

I was intrigued , off to the Isle of Harris and I hadn't twigged that the "Harris Tweed" offcuts I had been using in my heart garlands originated from there.

 



 It wasn't until someone said to me "look out for the weavers" that it set something off in my tiny brain. 

Ah Ah , must find the weavers on the Isle of Harris.......and so i did , sort of. I hunted and asked around , but the majority of the Harris Tweed made on the hebridean islands is not actually made on the Isle of Harris but The Isle of Lewis. So what does that entail ? how many ferries did I have to catch to get on to another hebridean island , well none , both Harris and Lewis are joined together to form one larger island. So all it took was a drive around the west coast of Harris , past all the beautiful stunning beaches , up to Lewis.

 Carloway is the home of one of the weavers who has a number of weaving looms set up in his shed. When you walk into his little empire straight away he rushes over to give you his demonstration of how he weaves his Harris Tweed. 

He had one of his looms set up with this glorious pattern


but he showed me how he weaves on this loom.


I won't go in to the detail of what he does , but it involves peddles that he uses like on a piano and shuttles that are full of yarn that go back and forth between the warp or is it weft) . 


and the whole thing is programmed using these strips , which determine which shuttles (these contain the coloured yarns) go through at what time. A bit like the puch card and paper tapes that were used to program computers back in the 70's.

I think the bit that really excited me was that these Hattersley looms came from Keighley, West Yorkshire , about 12 miles away from my home town of Halifax. I was so proud .....


authentic harris tweed

Please read the official harris tweed blog for more interesting information on this great woolly product , hand made on the most beautiful of our british isles.


 You will see harris tweed products spring in to life in my shop over the coming months. Hope you like them.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Our time on Isle of Scalpay

After our 1st night staying on the Isle of Harris , we decided to send a quick email off to our ex work colleague Lorna who had moved to the Isle of Scalpay over 7 years ago. It was just on the off chance that she would be available for us to make a little visit. We were so surprised when she returned with a "You must come and visit TODAY" , "I am at a craft fair in Tarbet all day today and then at the pub after, so you must come for a chat" .

So off we went................. via the seals



She also told us , to travel round the west coast of Harris before heading back into Tarbet and on to Scalpay as the west coast was full of some glorious beaches.



 The hospitality we got on Scalpay was so lovely , we ended up parked outside Lorna and Jess's house for 3 days , just taking in the views , going for wonderful walks and spending the evenings in the only pub for miles and eating and drinking with Lorna and Jess.


here's our motorhome parked outside the house and to the right is the Bothy


 
Lorna showed us round the lovely CartWheel Bothy (little self contained holiday flat) that they have done up and now let out on a weekly basis - more details here folks

and she even let me into her little crafty room she has upstairs where she makes cushions and other gifts from the famous Harris tweed , incorporating her own quirkiness to each item she makes.

and then , (and this is where I get really jealous) she sells her crafty things in  her very own crafty shop .......


so if you ever go to Scalpay, just passing through , or staying at CartWheel Bothy , please pop in to her shop and say hello to Lorna for me and tell her what a wonderful time I had.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Scotch Mist over our camp site

Killin  is a beautiful Scottish village situated at the western head of Loch Tay in Stirling (formerly Perthshire), Scotland.

The west end of the village is magnificently sited around the scenic Falls of Dochart, the main street leading down towards the Loch at the confluence of the rivers Dochart and Lochay. At the top of the main street is the camp site we stayed in on our latest trip. I couldn't resist taking this photo one morning, the scotch mist over the camp site.


Scotch mist is a  Scottish term given to a persistent drizzle with poor visibility

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Our stay at Strontian, Scotland

On our travels to the Hebridean islands we stopped at a wee village called Strontian (Srón an t-Sithein), on the shores of Loch Sunart, Argyllshire, Scotland. It is the main village in Sunart, an area in western Lochaber,Highland, Scotland, on the A861 road. It lies on the north shore of Loch Sunart, close to the head of the loch.

We were heading for the Sunart camp site , run by Tim and Lynn originally from Huddersfield , Yorkshire. Tim runs the camp site , Lynn runs her own crafty gallery shop / workshop. 

As soon as we entered the village I saw the sign that the chemical element strontium was named after the village. Me being a scientist at heart had to find out more.  I didn't see any more reference to it in the village so I did a little research on line
view from the village pub
This is what I found- 
Adair Crawford who was trained as a physician was also interested in chemical research. For a period of time, he was on the staff at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, England, and a professor of chemistry at Woolwich University.
In 1790. He was studying barium minerals and found a new (not barium) element in minerals found in the lead mines at Strontia. He called the element strontia from which the samples came. Strontia was later found to be a compound of strontium and oxygen. In 1808, Davy found a way to produce pure strontium metal. He passed an electric current through molten (melted) strontium chloride. The electric current broke the compound into its two elements:


Strontium and its compounds have relatively few commercial uses. Interestingly compounds of strontium are sometimes used to colour glass and ceramics. They give a beautiful red colour to these materials. Strontium compounds also provide the brilliant red colour of certain kinds of fireworks.

That evening , being a little fascinated by the subject , I was trying to come up with a new fair isle design. 


 
Don't you think it looks rather like a chemical element , electrons circling the inner neutron. I thought I might call it the "strontium" pattern.

I will be incorporating this design into my fair isle work in the next few weeks. I'll post here when I do.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Playing with patterns

I have been wanting to design some of my own fair isle patterns for the last few years and I've finally taken the plunge. As part of my research I started looking into fair isle patterns in general , how a simple little charted pattern can transform in to a new pattern by simply stringing a few little patterns together or by turning patterns upside down .

For example this simple pattern 


can be turned in to the pattern below by laying two patterns side by side and then again underneath.



and then it can become even more interesting when you start turning patterns upside down 

 So looking forward to knitting this pattern and playing around a little more.I may even add some more detail to it , make it a little more intricate , see what a difference that will make. Keep tuned , just in case I do.......



Thursday, 26 June 2014

The 4 amigos

I found the most delightful photograph of my daughter Michelle when I was leafing through her friends wedding album. 

I was looking for photos to use on my web site that would really show off the beautiful mohair wraps that I hand knit for the bridesmaids to wear. This photo so stood out.....


These 4 young lady's had been best friends at school. They had split up at 18 to go their separate ways , each of them to University in different towns , some of them coming back to live locally and then going away again. Each time they meet up its like a breath of fresh air to see them together. This photo portrays that.

Now here's one of the "real" wedding photos that shows off the wraps.

 
and a wedding montage that I have put together


PS Wonder how the photographer managed to sneak into the ladies





Quick View of Woolly Goodies available on my web site

Quick View of Woolly Goodies available on my web site
Click on photo above to see detail / to purchase

Thanks for reading.... but don't stop yet, take a read at old blog posts or other blogs I like below