It’s A Free Pattern, What Do You Mean I Can’t Sell The Item?

That cool little shrug pattern you downloaded three months ago sure sold hot at the Farmer’s Market this winter.  You got the pattern from some where of the world wide web for free.  You slaved long and hard over those 32 knitted shrugs in 32 different colors and 16 different patterns.  But did you read the whole pattern before you printed it off that neat little web site or from your favorite yarn brand’s website’s Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditional Use of Site?

Well, if you haven’t read one in a long time, I suggest you do.  I was under the impression that most of the free patterns off Name Brand product sites could be made and the item sold.  Wrong!  I can print the pattern out, make the item and use it for “personal use” only.  That means that I may make as many of them as I want and give them away.  I was reading the comments on a blog today when I was searching for a pattern for dishcloths and potholders.  Some how I got off on a side search for elephant patterns, sewn, knitted, etc.  Any way, I wish I had kept that blog up, because one of the commentators said they thought you could make the patterns and sell the items you get off the Red Heart website.

This is not true, I went to the Red Heart website to make sure that I could use their patterns for projects and then be able to sell those projects.  Under their Policy, Terms and Conditional Use of the Site in section 1.1 it clearly states (and I copied and pasted the exact words) “1.1 Copyright.

You may not use the Site, or the materials available on the Site, in a manner that constitutes infringement of our rights or that has not been authorized by us. Unless explicitly authorized in these Terms and Conditions of Site Use or otherwise in writing by the owner of these materials, YOU MAY NOT MODIFY, COPY, REPRODUCE, REPUBLISH, UPLOAD, POST, TRANSMIT, SELL, CREATE DERIVATIVE WORKS OF, EXPLOIT OR DISTRIBUTE, IN ANY MANNER, THE MATERIAL ON THE SITE, INCLUDING TEXT, GRAPHICS, CODE AND/OR SOFTWARE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION OF COATS & CLARK. However, you may print and/or download individual pages of the Site solely for your personal, non-commercial use, provided that (a) you do not modify any page or change or delete any copyright or proprietary notices from the materials on any such page within the Site, and (b) these Terms and Conditions of Site Use and any notices in such pages regarding use or ownership are included with reproduced or stored pages.”

Oops, I have made very common mistake for several years apparently.  Well there is no way I can go back over the years and remember all the patterns, projects, and those that sold and what they sold for so I guess the next best thing to do is, stop using there patterns, and start reading through the entire pattern/blog post and site to see if I have permission to use that awesome legwarmer knit pattern I just printed out thinking I can use it.

I mostly will run a search for pattern’s in the public domain once I find out what is popular, do I have an interest in making popular items, or is there a project that is kind of forgotten about that fits in with today’s idea of what is cool, trendy, bitch’n, dandy or whatever the buzz words are for I just got to have it.  Before you make your umpteenth thing-a-ma-whooie for the Spring Farmer’s Market or that Easter Craft Show, do yourself a favor and read the fine print.  I doubt if you would get caught, but into days world with everyone on the internet and all of us go under pen-names, it just might be your neighbors pattern that you are trying to sell in a booth just three or four away from them.

Keep On Crafting Montana!

Its Been Different This Year

2015, has been a very trying year for me. So much has happened. I moved from North Central Montana to Southwest Montana, my Mom died, and so did a friend of mine. This was the first time that I can remember that I have lost two people in one year. Work has not been the most pleasant adventure for me. I took on a janitorial contract early in January and have been having some issues with the client. I don’t know why people demand a contract, when they aren’t even going to read it before they sign it. I had to take on a job as the place I moved to is rather expensive to live. Unfortunately by doing so, Craftingmontana.com has suffered and for that I appologize. I hate not being able to work on Craftingmontana.com by bringing new pictures of handmade products I have on hand to the store, and to write articles, or maybe for once a story or a poem highlighting one of the various products that I have for purchase on the site.

My sister and I had decided some time back, that an ecommerce website for all the handycraft things I made to pass the time of day for the first five years of being disabled, could be a way for me to supplement my SSDI. Since then my disability has improved some, I no longer require a service dog to be out in public (my adventures really don’t go past grocery shopping or going to work in an empty building now). The level of other issues involved do limit my ability to perform traditional jobs and to tolerate certain environments and personalities long term, still leave a lot to be desired. The janitorial contract that I am currently working through has proven to me that the limitations are real.

It is my plan for the future of this site to turn the shop section into a flipbook catalog, I am also going to get rid of the Guest crafter, apparently I don’t generate enough traffic for that as of yet. The articles will become consistent at least, and if I can I am hoping to find a couple of people who would be willing to film some tutorials. Earlier this week I went out to another sister’s house and she taught me how to can deer meat, one of my childhood favorite foods. Canning your own food is another craft that is slowly going by the wayside. That would have been an interesting tutorial don’t you agree? If you have any suggestions, those of you who are human and land here for whatever reason, if you would leave suggestions for me I would really appreciate it.

I am hoping to supplement my income and I know that I need your help to do so. After all if I have no customers then I have no store. I have finally found a way to model the hats, and scarves better and have been working on my lighting so that the pictures will be easier to see what it is you are getting for your money. Yes my prices are low, but that is because the items are pretty simple right now, and I have been living in poverty for so long that I know it is hard to afford all those birthday presents for relatives, and children’s birthday parties, as well as for Christmas. I enjoy making these items and many more, I like variety and after making 10 or so Arm knitted cowls, I might do some simple seed bead necklaces or earrings, or crochet a cowboy hat or two. To make the beeswax and parifin candles is an all day process that is difficult to do in the small apartment I live in now. I want to start cutting glass and offering candle holders, juice glasses and more candles in containers as well. I have all this wonder pure beeswax I want to use up. The repetition to continue making some items over and over is far to taxing on my hands so I need to change the actions I am taking.

I know nothing about marketing on the internet and certainly don’t understand traffic either. I have seen others prey upon others in ways that are far from honest on the internet, and I have seen others provide top notch service and products as well. Me, I am providing simple, unique, handmade items that make great gifts without having to spend a fortune for. I am a simple person, just trying to boost my income so that I can meet my bills, and maybe put a little away for something whenever it shows up. Any suggestions for Craftingmontana.com, help, or purchases you may make are all greatly appreciated and warmly welcomed.

Remember, Keep On Crafting Montana!

Sewing Bee Needle Sharpener
DON’T FORGET TO WAX YOUR SKIS!

To become a master crafts person you have to start somewhere

It is true, in order to master anything, you must first start.  You have to make a decision about what it is that you want to become a master of.  The next step after making that decision is to start with the basics and practice, practice, practice, and practice some more until your ability to execute the technique has become almost second nature to you.  In beading this means that you must first start with a decision about what type of beads you will work with, delica  or large chunkier beads and the material to string them on.  Will you make a necklace, bracelet, anklets or are you looking for something a little more practical, a keychain, a beaded coin purse? Are you willing to rip it all apart and start over, or will you abandon the object just a few stitches in because it is more difficult than you thought?  My suggestion is to start with seed beads or pony beads, these beads are easier to work with when first learning.

When working with pony beads, they are larger than a seed bead so manipulation of the bead and thread are quite easy, most of the time you wont need a needle when working with these beads as the hole is large enough for lanyard if that is the type of stringing medium you wish to use.  Macro may thread is also great when working with pony beads.  You can thread a few beads then macro may a design for a spacer before weaving in more pony beads.  The design possibilities with the different types of threads, wires, and cords on the market today are only limited by the designers imagination.  If you live in a town where craft supplies are not that readily available I would suggest checking out the following article where I will compare some of the places you can find the exact thread for the needles you already posses, or if you can get the right thread but no needles we’ve got you covered there to.

I prefer working with seed beads as I am considered to be a petite woman.  I stand about 5’2″, weighing in around 130 pounds.  I also have a chronic pain condition so having large chunkier pieces of jewelry make me look even smaller than I am and cause great discomfort for me.  The nice thing about seed beads is their versatility from a simple strand of beads to intricate designs that are woven on a loom or sewn into a delicate fashion accessory statement. I am excited to discover the endless techniques that I have yet to learn.  I am certain I could spend a life time learning the different techniques of weaving, threading, and sewing these little guys into designs that are just mind blowing.  In the beginning paragraph of this article I suggest that you ask yourself if the project you really want to do is one that you will follow through with.  Working with seed beads is time consuming and can be quite messy.  I hate having to pick things up and put them away once I have gotten ready to start a project, or in the middle of one when my hands decide that they are taking  unscheduled vacation days.

The first technique I learned when working with seed beads was to string a simple one color necklace.  I like to use the Beadalon Big Eye Beading Needles as they are simple to thread and to pass through beads that already have been threaded once or twice before.  I also like to use cotton thread, not the smallest as this will twist and knot up and unravel when you are working with it, beeswax to draw the cotton thread through so that it doesn’t get damaged by any rough edges on the beads and a pair of needle nosed pliers to help pull the needle through if the thread starts to get to thick to get the next or last pass of thread through.  I would have to guess at size D, the craft stores where I live don’t consistently carry the same size or brands of thread and very few of the beading needles I like to use.  You will need to tie a knot around one bead and then proceeded to string on the other beads.  I thought to myself, “This is simple.  I could make a bunch of these in no time.”  After you have threaded enough beads for the desired length, thread the needle down three or four beads and tie a knot, cut the leftover thread.  After I cut the remainder of the fish line, I noticed my necklace was all twisted up, and kinkie too.  I thought it looked like crap and could not figure out why.

I soon discovered, that if I slowly rolled the beads between my fingers the kinkes started to straighten out.  I continued to do this and notice about the second or third time around the necklace that some of the beads were smaller than the others, or not as round as those they lay between.  I realized then that it really is important to sort your beads first!  Not only so that they are of consistent size, but also you will find several beads that are broken, the holes way to small, or perhaps the bead is just a sliver of what it should be.  All of these things will slow you down and could possibly make you have to cut you item apart and start over, or possibly just give up and forget about beading ever again.  This step is the most important I believe, no matter what type of beads you are using if you want your item to have a consistent look, a neat and tidy look, then sort your beads before you begin to string them.  As you get a few inches of beads on the string, roll them through your fingers to straighten out any kinkes, and to get the beads to stack straight.  This will not only help to give your finished product a more cohesive look, but it will help you to practice building the foundation for more difficult techniques and a foundation for unique, individual pieces of jewelry that hopefully one day will get passed down to the next generation with the story of how that item came to be in Granny’s jewelry box.  And remember, Keep on Crafting Montana!

Weather Snake

I remember as a little girl one of the first things my Mother taught us to crochet was a weather snake.  These were long tubes that we crochet using a variety of stitches.  This one is made using the half double stitch.These snakes would be placed at the bottom of doors or windows to stop the drafts, and it is a great way to use up scrap yarn.  I hate throwing anything out, so I stuffed mine with stuffing from a pillow that someone had given me.  Below are the instructions for a Crochet Weather Snake.

Great for stopping drafts under doors or windows!

 

Crochet Weather SnakeHand Crochet Weather Snake

Chain 4. Join into a circle with a single stitch.

Row 1: Chain 2, Insert hook into circle, pull up thread, pull thread through both loops on the hook.  This is what I call a half double crochet.

Do this 18 times, for a total of 19 half double crochets, the first double crochet is the chain two. Join each row with a single stitch and start each row with a chain two.  Repeat this until your snake has reached its desired length.  This particular snake is 39 1/2 inches.

I found it easier to stuff the snake as I went along.  I would do four or five rows, then stuff in a handful of the batting from the pillow I was up cycling.  I have enough stuffing from this one pillow to do quite a few projects.

Keep on Crafting Montana!

Montana’s Florence Crittenton Home Calls for Handmade Items

Florence Crittenton Home
Florence Crittenton Home

The Florence Crittenton Home & Services  in Helena, Montana, has been providing its clients for the past 114 years with intervention and prevention services to pregnant and parenting young women and their children.  Brittney Shirley states, ” We believe the most effective way to improve life outcomes is to provide very early intervention for young children and support, educate, and encourage their parents.  Florence Crittenton uses intervention strategies for those young parents struggling with barriers to provide care to their children-barriers such as trauma, substance abuse or histories of inter-generational abuse, neglect and poverty.  Providing services to pregnant teens and their children does not just affect the lives of these two individuals, but the lives of their entire families for generations to come and the communities in which they live and work.”

Florence Crittenton does accept hand crafted items as donations.  Ms. Shirley says they receive a great number of crochet and knitted items but would love to have some sewn items as a fresh change.  Below is a list of items they are currently seeking:

Cloth burp rags

Terry washcloths

Muslin swaddling blankets (not crib blankets)

Hats

Pre-made scrapbook pages for our young moms

Picture frames

 Swaddling blankets should be around 42X42, made mostly of muslin but the boarder can be cotton.  The children they help are of newborn to toddler ages and hat sizes should be geared for those age groups. I have taken the liberty to enclose a couple of links to other crafting websites so that you may find a pattern for the cloth burp rags: http://www.sewingsupport.com/sewing-how-to/free-patterns-and-projects/baby/burp-cloths.html, and patterns for sewn hats: http://smalldreamfactory.blogspot.com/2011/09/free-pattern-toddler-hat.html.  

If you would rather make a monetary donation please go to their site at, http://www.florencecrittenton.org.

Remember to Keep on Crafting Montana.

 

Are Farmer’s Markets Worth It

I applied for and am selling some of my craft items at the Farmer’s Market here in Great Falls, Montana.  Though the booth rental is very reasonable, I am wondering if it is really worth standing around for six hours waiting for the right customers to come buy and purchase.

I am only doing every other weekend, as I have a few physical complications and it takes me about three days to be able to function properly after a Market day.  Remember you have to load your wares, displays, tables, canopy and personal stuff into your vehicle the night before.  Then when you get to the Market before the Rooster crows you must unload and set everything up usually within one to two hours before the Market starts.  Our Market lasts for four hours and then we get to pack everything up, tear it all down and load it into the car for the ride home.  Once I get home it usually takes me a couple of days to unload everything because once again I have some physical issues.  The worst part is lifting the cinder blocks in and out of the trunk of my car so many times.

Now, I know I am not going to get rich selling my products at the Farmer’s Market or even selling them online, but at least online I have eliminated the difficult task of hauling everything down to the market and then back home again.    My first Saturday of selling my display looked like this:

My First Saturday at the Great Falls, Montana Farmer's Market
My First Saturday at the Great Falls, Montana Farmer’s Market

I know the short table with all the cowls looks rather sloppy, but I wasn’t sure how it would work out, as a couple of other people were suppose to have sent items of theirs to be sold as well, but backed out two nights before.  It rained for six hours, the whole time I was there, so the crowd was not as large as it usually is.

The vendors around me were very helpful, as I set my canopy up on the grass and started to put every thing out on the table.  They told me I wouldn’t get any traffic there, as they all set their displays out on the pavement.  They graciously helped me move everything and gave me a few more tips on where to set the tables.

This last market I did I was in a different space, closer to the entrance and closer to the food vendors.  It was a windy day, but not a drop of rain.  My display looked pretty much the same.  There was a larger crowd and my sales had increased thanks to my two Aunties who purchased two arm knitted cowls and wore them as they strolled through the Market.  They were asked where they got them and they shared where my booth was.

SOLD
SOLD

I had lots of interest in the cowls and candles.  Those who stopped by had plenty of compliments and suggestions for me.  I plan on incorporating some of them into the third market I will attend.  I also went to visit my Aunts the day after the market to ask their advice on my display and pricing.  They, and my Uncle gave me some tips on the display and prices as well as how I might make my product a little bit different than  some of the similar wares being sold by other vendors.

I cleared six dollars my first market and increased that to over $50 the second market.  I like how the Great Falls Farmer’s Market charges a percentage of your sales and not a flat rate that would make it almost impossible for a first time vendor to make any kind of profit.  Right now I would have to say Farmer’s Markets take more work than the money generated, but I did give out a lot of cards with my web store address on them and gained a lot of knowledge that can only be acquired through hands on experience.  Are Farmer’s Markets worth it?  Well, that is hard to say.  If you are only looking for ready cash:  if you sell good food, or produce you are in luck.  If you are selling craft items, I would say your first year will be a struggle until enough Market goers find you and become familiar with your work.  Also the more unique your craft is the better chance you have of picking up customers right away.

I am not able to sell my jewelry at the Farmer’s Market, as they have a lot of vendors who do sell jewelry so be sure to take into consideration what you are selling and do they have enough of those types of vendors.  You can only get my simple seed bead jewelry here at the web store, but the candles and arm knitted cowls you can stop by the Farmer’s Market and pick them up as well as ordering of the net.

Remember, Keep On Crafting Montana.