Pre-Made vs Made-to-Order

I want to give a shout-out to those shop owners who regularly keep items in stock, particularly those of the knit and crochet variety.

Whether you sell at fairs or have an Etsy shop or your own website, I find it daunting to keep items in stock, for several different reasons.

  • Anticipating what your customers want — try as I might to stay “on trend,” there is no telling what potential customers are going to actually purchase. There is so much subjectivity when it comes to buying something, especially if it’s a gift for someone else, that it’s hard to know what will fly out the door vs. sit around. I do check my stats regularly, and look to see what search terms are getting people to my shop, but I haven’t figured out any magic formula. Sometimes I don’t participate in the hot trends, however. Two examples that come to mind are ponytail hats (for autumn/winter) and mermaid tail blankets. I have made mermaid tail blankets, as I’ve blogged about, but trying to list a custom mermaid tail blanket was a bit overwhelming. People want to see color choices and they want to see an example. Since I’ve only made three in three different colors, I would have to ask people to use their imaginations, unless they ordered something exactly like what I’ve already made. Just typing all that out reconfirms for me why I never made a listing for them.
  • The more effort you put into something, the more you want it to sell. This is especially true for larger stuffed animals or any kind of garment. I have a baby blanket that hasn’t sold, even when I had a sale going on for the month of July. It’s colorful with a popular design (dragonfly) and is a terrific size, but…..nada. I try not to dwell when things don’t sell, for whatever reason, but it definitely shapes my decisions on what to make in the future, even if I’m just trying something out for fun. On the flip side of the coin, smaller and easier things don’t always sell, either. I’ve made several cute baby hats in the past that have just sat there, so they went into the gift pile, instead. Baby hats never go out of demand but it’s also a saturated market, so… c’est la vie.
  • I work full-time, so I don’t have as much time during the week as I’d like to dedicate towards crafting. I am in awe of and inspired by those who have creative careers where they can make and sell for a living (pottery comes to mind). Even if I didn’t work full-time, however, reasons 1 and 2 would keep me from making things in advance unless I were regularly setting up booths at craft fairs.
  • Limited space! While I do have a dedicated craft space for my yarn and other crafting supplies, storage space for finished objects is definitely on the smaller side. If I were to have a shop full of items in stock, I would have to be selling something 1-2x a week so I didn’t have 20-30 animals and blankets and things laying around.

For those reasons above plus those below, I enjoy doing custom orders as they come in:

  • have sold items in stock and I really love when I’m able to ship something out quickly without having to make the customer wait. That said, even when I make something for the current season, e.g. a cowl, there is no telling what someone is going to want. It’s great to have a little pile of pre-made gifts, but typically, I like to ask a person if I can make them or their child something, and 99% of the time it’s not what I’ve already got on hand. Case in point, I’m about to make my third hippo in a row as a gift to a friend — they’re just so cute, a terrific size, and the accent colors are totally customizable.
  • I can buy specific yarn for a specific project and know that it will get used. If you are a yarn addict as I am, you know the pitfalls of buying a bunch of yarn with no intended project. I made that rookie mistake AGAIN this past weekend, when I used a Michael’s store credit to purchase a whole bunch of Caron Baby Cakes yarn in multiple colors, just so I could try it out. Now I’m working on another baby blanket to use up 5 of the 7 skeins I bought. Worst case scenario, the blanket will be donated, but I have so many friends having children, I am sure it will be gifted or sold. (It’s a very pretty design.)
  • Making custom orders is giving someone exactly what s/he wants, down to color, size, etc, and it makes me feel all warm and toasty inside to be able to craft something precisely as that person desires, be it friend or customer. This raccoon and the big pink bunny are just two examples of that.

This is a random aside that doesn’t have anything to do with crochet or knitting, and I don’t mention it very often, but I have various photographic prints for sale in my shop. Photography, like crochet and knitting, is such a saturated market, that I rarely sell any prints or canvasses, even though these have a short turnaround time. I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of the photo listings. I’ve read that it’s better to have one particular focus per shop, as well, so it may be the little nudge I need to finally do away with them and stick to the yarny things for Etsy. I have bigger aspirations, and I may just need to see the light on this and stick with the crochet sales (and potentially knit sales in the future!).

If anyone who reads this blog is also an Etsy seller, I would love to hear your feedback, especially if you keep items in stock. I just don’t find it very practical for how long it takes to make things and hope for the best, but I see plenty of people who sell regularly from their stores.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until the next mishap or adventure!

Who Doesn’t Love a Big Pink Bunny?

When I first started working with this custom order request, I honestly didn’t know how big the bunny would turn out in the end, just that it would be “twice the size” of the Big-Bottomed Bunny* I already have in my shop.

I worked with the pattern to double the number of rounds and stitches, carefully monitoring the shape as I went along. She ended up twice the height at a full 12″ tall, but I think she ended up more like 3X the width around — look at that big old bottom!

Although it took more yarn than I expected, I’m really happy with this beauty, and hope her new owner is, too. She’s soft and squishy, and just cute to look at. Her soft pink color gives any room a nice little pop.

*Pattern is not mine–it is from the book Crochet One-Skein Wonders, which is a fabulous book!

Up ‘Do

Recent Cutie Patooties

I have been on a bit of a tear lately finishing (and starting) various projects. I even started a knit dishcloth the other day, but it’s TBD on whether it’ll be a useful item or be wound back up into a yarn cake.

But here are a couple of recently finished (crocheted) items, both of which turned out SO well and are so freaking cute!

The first is a paper boat amigurumi from the talented designer Lalylala. The other is a standing bunny rabbit from the designer StufftheBody. Both can be found on Ravelry and Etsy.

The bunny I decided to list in the shop. I have plans for the paper boat, but likely I’ll make that a custom listing down the line.

Happy Fourth of July weekend, everybody!

❤ ❤

Feel the Love and Savings

Hallo, everybody!

I thought I’d let my handful of readers know about a discount code I’ve got active in the Etsy shop right now: ZVCTHANKS shaves off 10% of any purchase in the shop, be it crochet or photography items.

My shop is three years old and so I am passing on the love–and savings–to those who have lurked and waited for the right time to buy something.

This code is good through February 16! Happy shopping!

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Big Red Fox

img_9645I’ve been making efforts to make projects that I like and would get enjoyment out of, even if there is no intended buyer (or person to give the item to just yet). Working a full-time job means I crochet in my spare time. I’ve discovered that if I start something and put it down, even for a little while, it will easily turn into months before I pick it up again or find the motivation to finish it.

(Case in point: Sepp the Seahorse, my first Lalylala doll, has been a work-in-progress since June of 2016 — yeesh!)

I bought this red fox pattern a couple of months ago and finally got around to making it. I tracked my progress on Ravelry and was surprised I finished it in five days. That is pretty quick for me, but I also realized afterwards that I prioritized it over other projects. I’m glad I did, though, because it kept the momentum going, and this handsome fella came out of it!

This pattern from Kristi Tullus calls for using joints, which I did not use. I labeled it as easy or medium-easy on Ravelry, but I would say that this pattern is definitely meant for an experienced crocheter and/or amigurumi-maker. I had to do some very careful sewing since I wasn’t using joints, and I made some mental notes about what to do for future foxes.

I do love the long limbs, and using Vanna’s Choice yarn was a great “choice,” since it yielded a bigger doll, even using a 4mm hook. Plus I just love that rich orange color, don’t you? The colorway is called Terracotta, for anyone who wants to use that. The pattern calls for using a dark brown but instead I used a Lion Brand yarn, colorway Smoky Mountains, which is dark gray and wisps of silver. I thought it gave the paws and accents a bit more depth.

All told, Big Red is 15″ from the top of his head to his tippy toes.

As much as I love the fox, I decided to list him in the Etsy shop because I feel like he could make a kid (or collector, whoever) very happy. So he is officially for sale! And I threw in free shipping, just ’cause. **Edited to say he sold!**

Here are some photos for your enjoyment! And if you have any questions about the making of the fox, please do comment below or send me a note at zavvycreations {at} gmail dot com.

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Flash Photo Sale for Fall!

Hi, folks!

Some of you may have seen on the social medias that I moved over the summer. After a month or so of settling in, I’m happy to be back to creating with yarn and photos.

Speaking of photos! I’m currently holding a photo promotion in the shop for 10% off ANY photo listing through Sunday, October 16! Use the promo code PHOTOSALE16. It’s good for prints, canvasses, or custom orders!

Feel free to message me through this site or on Etsy with any questions. 😀

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Shop on Vacay!

Vacay

I wish I really were at some tropical location where I was enjoying views of the water and sand with nothing more to do other than relax, crochet, stream shows on Netflix, nap (and repeat), but alas, I had to put the shop on vacation for a completely humdrum (but exciting in its own way) reason: I’m moving!

Moving is one of those sucky parts of adulthood where the process of it totally sucks but the end result feels amazing. I’m actually going to have a dedicated space for my desk and craft things and I’m completely over-the-moon thrilled about it.

That means I put a halt on fulfilling any orders for the rest of the month, but I’ll be back in action in just a couple of short weeks.

Hope the handful of folks out there who read this are having a lovely summer. Only one more month before it’s officially autumn–eep!

 

Valentine’s Easter-Spring-Summer

Have you noticed how Valentine’s and Easter seem to blend together in the subdued gray, winter-into-spring months? Valentine’s Day is not that big of a “crochet” holiday, but if you plan ahead, you can make some cute things for it. Usually February creeps up on me too quickly to make anything, but I did manage to whip up a couple of luxury spa cloths. Here’s one:

Basketweave Luxury Washcloth

A surprise valentine for a friend: a luxe facial cloth!

I like February, generally, because it’s got a few fun days in there: Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day. Some people are off work for President’s Day, extending the three-day weekend trend for one more month. And it’s a short month, too, so then March is upon us quickly.

Shortly after March 1, however, things seem to snowball into springtime and Easter, with fashion trends for swimsuits and sandals quickly following suit. (IMO: too much too soon.)

In an attempt to get ahead of spring fever this year, I decided to get the Easter listings out ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute. Fun!

 

Celebration! zavvy creations is Two!

My little Etsy shop has been open for two whole years. Wow!

This has been quite the experience ever since I picked up a hook again in late 2013: lots of trial and error, consuming books and patterns galore, connecting with new friends, and filling the spaces of my home with lots…and lots…..of yarn and fiber. Mmm.

I have completed dozens of orders through word-of-mouth and the shop itself, on top of experimenting with countless different projects and giving things away. I’m so excited to see what I will accomplish in 2016.

In honor of the anniversary, I am holding a special where any order of $12 or more will receive free shipping** through January 16, 2016! This includes crochet and photography items. Free shipping provides a sliding scale discount–the bigger the item is, the more you’ll save!

Just use the code TWOYEARS in the shop on any qualifying purchase. Can be used on custom orders, as well! Simply click the button on the home page of the shop that looks like this:Request

I hope to hear from some of you!

😀

** I have recently been made aware that international shipping is exceedingly expensive. As in, it doesn’t make sense for me to ship my creations abroad when the shipping will cost as much or more than the item itself. Of course, if there is an item someone is dying to have that they can’t get in their own region, a custom order could be created with agreed-upon shipping.

 

Irregulars (Misfit Toys)

Sometimes I whip up an amigurumi just for fun with no other purpose than to just hang out in my home until I can give it away or sell it.  (And sometimes I end up keeping them. I have a baby whale and a finished cupcake that adorn my home office that are too sweet to give up!)

Then sometimes there are those toys or items that are complete but are just a little….off. Sometimes the “offness” is only noticeable to me but sometimes it’s more noticeable.

(And other times, I make something and for whatever reason, maybe that crochet is an insanely competitive market? it doesn’t sell.)

Take, for example, this cutie patootie baby owl.

Irregular Baby Owl Amigurumi
Designed by one of my favorite designers, Little Muggles, I had to try it. Even though there were nine separate parts to crochet, I liked how the soft pastel yarn looked with the baby yellow yarn. And those eyes!

Sadly, my inspired idea to give him blue eyes didn’t work out too well because the backs to the eyes took some extra oomph to fit. My husband had to use pliers and a lot of strength I do not possess to force the eye into the backing. Unfortunately, both eyes were scratched in the process. (Note to self: will not be purchasing from that supplier again.)

This little guy has sat in my little pile of growing “misfit toys” for a few months, waiting to be played with. He now bears the Irregular label and is sitting in my shop, waiting to see if someone wants to take him home.

Another example is this lop-eared baby bunny. It’s actually executed perfectly. Nothing is “wrong” with it except that the weight of the bunny is not evenly distributed, which happens, and so one of the hind legs comes up as the bunny rests on its front paws. It kind of looks like it’s in mid-jump. But since it doesn’t sit nicely, in it goes to the Misfit Toys bin.

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The point is, because of these small irregularities, they shouldn’t render the toy homeless useless. But to help entice others to adopt these little misfit creatures, I went ahead and created an Irregular section of my shop so I can pass on the savings and keep my closet from filling up with perfectly lovely adoptable creatures!

I’m a little giddy about this new section of my shop–I hope others are, too!