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Friday, July 30, 2010

Clownie Has A Face!!

Oooof, it has been so hot around here this past week, it's been hard to do anything, but I keep plugging away on Clownie.  And now, he's got a face.  I wanted him to have a sweet face since I think this particular clownie is intended for a baby.  What do you think?!

My friend rightly pointed out that a pom pom nose is NOT appropriate for a baby, so I am going to experiment with sewing on the nose also.  Now, I'm really getting to the fun part, putting clownie's pieces all together!

I've been adding some new tips to the site.  I don't know why a number of patterns these days use the term "2dctog" rather than "1 dec".  It's the same thing -- make a decrease stitch -- but I think the latter term is more descriptive.  Anyway, just wanted to mention it since I've gotten a number of questions recently on how to make a "2__tog".

Ok, back to clownie!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The New Site!!

Whoooo hooooo!!  The new site is up and running!!  Not sure yet whether redirecting the site to a new IP address is going to mess up my email settings, but it's up and running!!  I have so loved getting my geek on :-)  I've been doing HTML and adding widgets and buttons -- sounds like I know what I'm doing, right?!  Well, not so sure about that, but it seems to be working.  I would love to get feedback!

I'm thinking of suspending the newsletter in order to keep fresh content on the website, but I guess they are not mutually exclusive.  Ah, decisions, decisions.

Mmmm, I'm hoping I am now going to be able to spend some time interacting on social media.  Isn't it funny, I have felt like, until I got my own stuff squared away, I didn't have anything to contribute to the discussion, but I'm not sure that that is the way to think about it.  In hindsight, I wish I had just jumped in more, and at this point, I would encourage others to do the same.  Finding a community of like-minded crafters and learning from them and expressing your interests and obstacles is an important way to really explore whether having your own crafts business is what you really want.

Now that I've really taken the plunge with the new website, I really hope to be able to sit back and reflect on where I was, where I am, and where I hope to be going.  Of course, I will try to pass along the "gems" through this blog.

But for now, back to the books!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, Size Does Matter

in the publishing industry.  I've come to discover that there are books that are considered an "industry standard" size and others that are "custom size".  Guess which one I had been working with?!  So, now our 8 1/2 x 11 books (custom) are getting whittled down to 8 x 10 (industry standard).  Why does size matter?  Because, although you can get your books listed on and downloaded or converted into ebooks, you cannot get them in stores through CreateSpace's service if they are not industry standard.  Do I think Barnes & Noble or Borders is going to be clamoring to stock our books?  No, but I'd like to have the option.

I'm sad in a way because I had the crochet book set up as 6 x9, which was just such a fun size, easy to carry, etc., but have converted it into 8 x 10 also.  Well, at least all publications by Many Creative Gifts will be uniform and pretty easily recognizable :-)

Oh, and there are differences between Lulu and CreateSpace, though not a bad as I thought it would be.  The Lulu book definitely had nicer paper, but the colors were more muted; CreateSpace is slightly less quality, though again, not as bad as I thought it would be.  The good point -- the colors seems to be a bit brighter with the CreateSpace book.  Also, the same book, all in color, 32 pages -- Lulu charges $11.80, CreateSpace charges $3.95!  CreateSpace takes longer to ship, but for that difference...

Hope this helps all the budding self-publishers out there!  We're on the verge of making our big book announcement, so please check back!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Mind is a Terrible Thing...

No, seriously, it can be a terrible thing, to waste or not!  Have you ever tried to define what the "mind" is?!  And never mind the subsets -- attitude, behavior, smarts, etc.  Well, that's what I've spent part of the weekend doing, both for the newsletter and the website.  In trying to figure out how to present helpful and interesting information, I thought I had better define some terms or at least have a starting point.  Well, it has been challenging, but as I always say (but not necessarily do), just take it in bite-size pieces :-)  Ugh, and I haven't even started on Spirit yet.  I think the key is going to be to keep things simple -- let each reader define things for him or herself, but offer what will hopefully be useful and maybe thought-provoking selections.

Update:  Clownie has a head!  But, strategically, I'm discovering that Clownie should have a hat first, so that I'll know how to position the face, so that's the next aspect of this project to nail down.  Famous last words, but the hat should be quick and easy.  I'm getting excited about putting him all together!

Ok, time to pay some bills before hitting the road!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Real Website?!

So, of course like many small business owners, I've been struggling with getting a real website up and running.  I have my domain name and hosting services with Network Solutions, which of course is more than willing to sell me an expensive package of design services, etc.  And, I have to say, they've been very nice whenever I've called or written in with questions, so no complaints, but you are on your own with that service.  But, alas, all I have is a one-page site directing visitors to other sites (thank you honey!).  Oh, to have a real site that truly provides a one-stop resource!

Well, recently, I was trying to catch up on some old issues of Entrepreneur magazine (totally worth picking up) and came across  You can use their templates and build a free site.  For $50 a year, you can get rid of the yola branding at the bottom of the site and get more services.  For $350, they will put together the website for you.  So far, so good -- I have found it to be very user friendly, and they responded very quickly when I sent a message about being able to publish the site to my existing domain name and service.  Now, I haven't actually hit the "publish" button yet, but as I said, so far this all seems legit and good, so just saying...

Ok, Clownie is coming along well, his head is almost done, and then, I will tackled the pom poms.  I hope I can find that video on YouTube again about how to make them!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The End is Near...

Hubby comes back on Sunday and my Phyllis time is almost over :-)  I'm ready for him to be back, though I have enjoyed the time to revel in cleaning and organizing and crafting and leaving things wherever I put them and knowing that it will still be there when I return!

My latest project is a clown doll for a friend of mine.  Her Nana used to make them for all the kids in the family, and I think she's hoping to fill the role now.  You know, I usually don't like clowns, I guess I fall into the camp that finds them creepy.  But, I have to say, this crocheted clown is actually pretty cute.  I've been reverse engineering it, though I did Google it, and sure enough, I think I found a starting point for the pattern (Nana made modifications, and my friend and I really like her version, so I'm trying to stay true to it).  Pictures soon.

And, the self publishing blues continue...  An update on that will be coming soon too.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

While the Husband's Away...

The crafter will create!  I've also been on a cleaning frenzy, but have come to a screeching halt on what to do about new outside balcony furniture.  Oh well...

But, I did discover a stash of embroidery floss in all sorts of beautiful colors.  It got me thinking... and here's what I came up with!

Of course the center starts with a flower, and then I just built around it, changing colors as I went along.  It was a fun, quick project and has me itching to work on some more jewelry, ooooh, maybe with beads!  The pattern is available on Ravelry (click on icon on left panel).

Hope everyone had a happy 4th!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Self-Publishing Blues

I remember someone saying we've all got at least one book in us, and with self-publishing options these days, it should be easy to just whip out this book and get it into the world, right?!  Well, boys and girls, not so easy.  It's amazing all of the components of the process that you have to think about -- should you get an ISBN?  What does that mean anyway?  What size should your book be?  What service should you use?  What all-inclusive package should you let the publishing service talk you into getting?

I certainly don't have any answers for you, yet, but I found this article by David Carnoy of CNet very helpful:

Oh, and it's important to try to figure out which publishing service you want to use first because that will inform what options you have regarding size and pages of the book (I'm discovering that each service seems to offer different sizes from each other, so it's not easy to move your book around or list on multiple publishing houses without being able to adjust the size).  Thankfully, my understanding of how to use InDesign is growing, so I think I'm going to be able to resize things and be able to take advantage of both Lulu (which has the size of book I want but is more expensive) and CreateSpace (which is cheaper and is the Amazon subsidiary, so I have to believe that distribution would be better).

So, stay tuned for more trials and tribulations in the self-publishing world!