Monday 31 October 2011

WIPs, UFOs and USOs.....How many do you have?

WIPs, UFOs and USOs......What is she talking about?  I'm talking about works in progress, unfinished objects and unstarted objects.....the acronyms of the crafter!!  Well a WIP is definitely one, but I don't hear the other 2 used that often so maybe I've just made them up......but they are soooo suitable for me.

I always like to have lots of projects on the go, and as long as they get a weekly going over, whether that's taken out of the knitting bag or storage box or some work done on them even if it's just a row knitted or a square does not fit into any of the above 3 acronyms. 

A project only becomes one of the above three acronyms if it hasn't been touched in about a month or so....let me explain......

Firstly the WIP, the Work in Progress....this is a project I'm still craving to do, but time has just got away but it's going to get finished sooner rather than later.  Here are some of those.....

The Raspberry Ripple as it has become known as, I'm itching to get this finished, so it is my No.1 WIP.

Another WIP is my pastel Circle in a Square project.....I started this in Kyneton around 5 weeks ago....this project I'm loving....the pretty, pretty pastels make such a nice change to the bright yarns I normally work with and the white borders are pure white, some of you will know my stance on white!!....All in merino, silk and cashmere.

My new Baby Bullseye with alpaca borders....I've decided I'm going to be making one boy blanket and one girl blanket.....I've got all the colours sorted and this project is another one I'm itching to pick up and get moving on.

Now the next category is the UFO or the Unfinished object....this item was started with great gusto and for whatever reason I just lost interest, or it just seemed to be such a big project, or something better came's normally the latter!!

This cardigan I started for myself around 2 years you can see I'm a quarter of the way up the back and that's it really.  I have all the yarn to finish it, and when I pulled it out to finish it, I did feel a little bad. It's a complicated pattern, all cables, so it's hard to do whilst watching the TV, so I think that's why it got rested then forgotten.  Anyway I've popped it in the *freezer along with all the yarn to finish it and I think it's going to be moving up to a WIP!!

and what it will eventually look like when completed.....

Another is a crochet cushion just made out of leftover 10ply cotton.....just mixed colours.  I'm doing up a couple of chairs, one that I sit on to type here at the computer, and it's matching buddy is in the living room....just thought the bedroom or computer chair needed a bit of cheering up with a's only a small project and would only take another couple of hours to finish.

Baby Cashmerino cabled coat for my Etsy store.....enough said.

and finally a tweed wool baby blanket.....

The last category is the USO, or the Unstarted object....the yarn was purchased but the project never got underway......embarrassing really.
Eco Organic Cotton Baby Pullover for my Etsy Store.....

Again more cotton for little striped cardigans for my Etsy store.

And lastly my collection of vintage Fuzzy Wuzzy yarn, all put aside for some limited edition baby booties.

So there you have it.......the shame of the crafter, and I know I'm not alone......How many of you have hidden projects all stashed away from prying eyes, yet continue to bring more crafty goodness into your home? 

Do tell......

Until next time.

Vicki x

*Freezer....just a tip for some of you....I store all my yarn in plastic tubs, for cleanliness and to keep any little critters out of it (really only refers to wool, silk or cashmere).....the project in question has been in storage for some time, so for piece of mind I always wrap these up in a plastic bag and put them in the deep freeze....if there are any critters in the yarn they freeze to death....the project comes out of the freezer for 12 hours then back in for a final 48 hours.  I have heard of infestations of critters in wool....touch wood I'm very vigilant and use cedar and lavender in all my storage tubs just to be sure. so I can't say I've ever had a problem.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Fair pay for a Fair day's work?

Costing one's work is a difficult thing to do....trying to balance what people will pay while trying to make some sort of profit is really a hard call.  I've read, heard and listened as other sellers battle with the same problems.  I've put my point across on Etsy's blog when people have openly criticised others for the price they charge for handcraft pieces of work.  So I thought I'd break it down for you to the best I can....I'm probably going to learn something myself here!!  Please also consider when reading this, it is my breakdown of costing....please don't judge any other work by what I do or what I charge....this is entirely my own experience and what I have to do to make it viable...if it is at all.....and remember I do this because I want to and I can.  I'm never going to make millions but that's not what it is about for me.

I'm going to use one of my Cashmerino Earflap Hats as an example....This is the completed article and take into consideration these hats come in 4 sizes. Reality is there is really not a huge amount of difference between the knitting of a newborn hat and a 36month old hat....maybe a wee little bit more time and some extra yarn, but they both still need to be knitted, sewn up, buttons purchased, buttons sewn on, straps made and put on, cotton logo sewn on which involves a sewing machine...both hats are put in the same size tuff envelope and both driven to the post office for I do see why some sellers charge the same price for their hats no matter what size.....I charge different prices for different sizes, if it's bigger you pay more....that's my pricing structure.

The only items I buy wholesale for my business are yarn but that is only some brands which include Debbie for these little hats the yarn is priced I'm basing my costings on a 4M to 10M baby hat.

Yarn alone....even though there are 3 colours of yarn in these hats I add the total quantity of yarn together. So just under one ball.

Wholesale price for yarn used. $6.50, this includes the GST and the postage I am charged for delivery of said yarn, I have to pass that cost on.  This cost then goes back into buying more yarn, so I basically I never see that money at all it continually goes back into the buying kitty.

Buttons x 3 @ 90c each.  I purchase these retail so total $2.70.  I know you can get cheaper buttons, but cheaper buttons look exactly like, and as these buttons are a feature they have to look good.

Now you might just be thinking well that's $9.20 and she sells these hats for $29.50 so she's made a $20.30 profit....well here is where the other bits and pieces come out.

Firstly as it's income it has to be declared to the tax dept, so I need to take out around $2 per hat to put aside to pay for any extra tax at the end of the financial year, it's probably a little too much but I like to be we're down to $18.30.  I then take out another $1.00 per hat to cover heating and lighting whilst working at home... these utilities aren't really tax deductible because the tax department see you as being home so therefore you'd have the lights on we're down to $17.30, cellophane bag to pack the hat in 10c, postcard, $1, sew in label in hat 20c, and swing tag 5c that's another $1.35 .... we're now down to $15.95.

To be fair some of these items do get included as tax deductions but take into consideration I have had to outlay the money for these prior, and sometimes big bucks that I never really see any return on but I think they are a necessary part of the business....advertising and marketing in a way....and presentation is paramount in my book.  So we're at $15.95 now....I'm not going to include postage as I do charge for that, so that really is the end of my costings.

Well $15.95 profit, that's ok you say....yep not bad, but it leaves me no room at all for wholesale, which is why I don't offer it at all now....if I did offer wholesale this hat would have to be marked up by another $15 or so dollars, making it then retail for around $44.50....out of most peoples price range I believe.


Anyway let's take my $15.95 and then consider the fees I have had to pay to list the item and I also pay the paypal fee, so take out on average another $1.50 then I'm left with $14.45.

Lastly divide it up now into hours worked....knitting, sewing and finishing off this hat comes in at 4.25 hrs and photographing, listing and packing up the hat comes in at around 0.75 so totaling around 5 hours of work for this hat alone so there you have it people I really am working for $2.89 per hour!!!  So now you understand my total frustration at people who constantly criticise crafters and state that they could make whatever the item for next to nothing and then also unfairly compare a hand made item to a mass produced item made in Asia and India and the like and say we charge too much.  My blood boils!

Look I know this seems quite extreme and my little business is just me, so yes, the $14.45 goes into my pocket but by god I work damn hard for it and it is a lot of work for little return....but I love doing it, I love seeing my hats on little heads and it keeps me occupied...I spend a lot of time at home, so I thank goodness I can do something in front of the telly!

I will also add that some hats, I do make a bit more money from and some I don't, so swings and roundabouts.....blankets are a hell of a lot of work and a lot of hours again for not a huge return, but it's the creativeness I crave more than anything else.

So there you go people just thought you might want to keep this in mind the next time you consider a handmade product.  There is a lot of love and (underpaid) time put into it...but it is worth the price.

Post script added 24th July 2012.

I still see a lot of people pop over and read this post....since writing this post I have changed my pricing structure greatly.   There has been price rises in wholesale price of yarn, and I've had to value myself a bit more and make sure I pay myself properly.

After much thought I decided that my prices needed to be the same for all hat sizes....the work really is the same so therefore I averaged all the prices of all the sizes in the style and came up with an average....and you know what I feel better about it, and in actual fact it hasn't decreased my business at all and customers tell me it's easier for them as in saying, make sure you still work out a pricing structure for yourself, value you as the maker and make sure you pay yourself something....your work is worth something to everyone. x

Until next time...Craft on!!

Vicki xx

Sunday 23 October 2011

My local.......

I had to pop down to my local this morning.....That's my local yarn store.  From time to time I have to run down and pop in to the Wool Baa as I've run out of something.....most of my yarn I now buy wholesale, but the Wool Baa has all the bits and bobs I normally need to finish something off.

The Wool Baa is nestled in Bridport Street, Albert Park amongst all the cute little coffee shops.  It's a fantastic little shopping strip with a village feel to it where A list celebs visit and get left alone, not even the locals bother with them....I've sighted Hugh Jackman, Tom, Katie and Suri, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, both Minogue sisters just to name a few.... so a hop, skip and jump from me and the place I often take my knitting to on the weekend for a cup of tea and a chat with the wonderful staff who keep me amused with all their woolly stories.

One of the reasons I love this place is the owner Leonie went out on a limb and decided to manufacture her own knitting yarn under the name of Adorn's sold exclusively in her shop and it's a yarn that needs to be highlighted.  She has an 8ply or DK or Sportsweight yarn in merino and silk, a 4ply or fingering weight yarn in merino, silk and cashmere and an 8ply cotton cashmere mix.  Leonie loves colour so she wasn't afraid to be bright with the 8ply and the 4ply for babies has some lovely soft muted colours.

The 8ply silky merino is my's machine washable, has an amazing sheen to it from the silk, has the most amazing bounce to it once it's knitted and the colours are fab and I use it for my little textured baby bonnets...this one in Blush Pink.

And I use the 4ply in some of my Dimple Hats....mostly the silver grey....this gorgeous photo sent in by one of my customers.

Look at the array of beautiful colours......

Here's a link to the Wool Baa.  They ship internationally as well as locally and have a great range of other yarns, books, buttons, patterns that Leonie has designed herself and jewellery.

Here's a few more pics from my visit this morning.

So if you're ever in Melbourne or in Albert Park pop in and say hi to the girls....get yourself a great coffee and also grab some great Japanese food at my favourite restaurant a bit further up the road called Eis and you never know who you might see down there!

Happy crafting.

vicki x

Saturday 22 October 2011

Colour My World With Cashmerino

I spent a couple of hours during the week doing a stocktake on my Baby Cashmerino Yarn....I love this yarn and it's primarily the staple yarn of my little business Dover & Madden.  A couple of reasons, firstly the colours, secondly the softness and last this yarn is machine washable.

Anyway the reason for the stocktake being that I'm going to be making my little Dover & Madden Exclusive  Cashmerino Striped Earflap Hats into limited edition colour runs.  It's been an idea for a while but while my shop remained fully stocked I kept getting orders for the same hats and therefore I couldn't introduce any new colours....fantastic but frustrating at the same time....and I will be honest, it does get very boring for me when I'm knitting the same colour hats all the time.  So some of you may know that my Etsy shop is very understocked in anticipation for a few new items and colours coming up.  Here are a couple of my favourites...

and this is my other favourite....Blue and Green should always be seen!

So getting back to my point...a stocktake was needed.  The wholesaler had sent me an updated colour chart and I needed to look at my colour palette and find out where the gaps in colours were.  It's a very hard struggle....2 I need 2 reds....3 shades on navy etc etc....the thought process in my head swirled around, and just because I like the colour does everyone in the end I made a few executive decisions.  I will have to add a few extra pinks and purples....I think I will add in a really dark navy and the really dark brown, I need a soft purple, and another orange and I think I'm covered.

I haven't put any colour combos together because they remain top secret.....until they're introduced but here are some pictures of the stock I've got and there is more to come!!

The neutrals....I don't know why I've included cream here as it will never appear as a colour in a Cashmerino Striped Earflap Hat....I don't mind it on it's own, but I won't use it striped with a colour such as pink & cream or blue & cream...I'm probably alienating a whole market here but in my mind it just lacks a little something, it's boring and a little predictable.....and I love my baby stuff to be full of colour.  Black might get a run somewhere along the way.


The favourites and the new dark charcoal grey just floats my boat.  Grey is a colour that suits baby skin, and these greys are soooo pretty, I use them a lot and I expect to use the new dark charcoal many looks fab with some of the blues.

The blues...and there is a lot of them....and looking at them all there really does need to be that very dark navy.  There are a couple of new blues in here and some of them do have a grey tone so could match in well with the grey tones.

Purple....I'm missing the really soft silver mauve so that will have to make it in .... I love purple and it's a colour that suits me....I find it's not a popular colour that Mum's put on their bubs....I could be wrong but I was told it was a bad luck colour.....maybe it's an old wives tale, someone might be able to clear that up for me.  Purple is a colour that no matter what your skin tone is you will find a shade that suits you....that also goes for other colour has this ability....I always thought I couldn't wear yellow...I have to wear a soft buttery yellow....not a canary yellow.

Pinks....not one of my favourite colours but I use it a lot....I'm tend to like the soft muted pinks and the purplish pinks rather than the bold  hot bright pinks...a few more pinks are coming....

I'm a big fan of brown in knitting....and the new mustard shade I'm you can see it's missing a really dark brown as much as I love the milk choc that's on the way.

The soft lemons, apricots, oranges and least favourite colours....unfortunately the bright orange, second from the right is a deleted colour, but I have a small stash of it, so I will use it as a highlight colour, it's a beautiful orange and it's such a shame it's gone....and there really does need to be a bright yellow, but DB does not do one....shame really, so mustard will have to suffice.

And lastly my absolute  I love all shades of green, although personally I don't wear a lot of green because it doesn't really suit me, although I do have green eyes....I can wear apple green but not much else, shame really...but loads of shades here and just three more to come....jade green and a soft khaki and a pale mint green.

So there you have much colour....the fun stuff is putting them together to make hats....I won't share that with you that's a surprise.  The sneak peeks will be over on my Facebook page.

Here's a question how many hats becomes a limited run? are my thoughts

NB to 3M x 1
4M to 9M x 2
10M to 18M x 3
18M to 36M x 2

Let me know what you think....leave me a comment.

Till next time

Vicki x

Sunday 16 October 2011

Getting Ahead of Myself.....

I got a little excited last night and the "One a Day" became "Five a Day".....I'm loving every minute of this project....but it will have to go back to "one a day" because the hat orders beckon. Here's a sneak peek.

I think I'll only need 5 across by 7 in 35 and I can always add another row if need be at the end...this pattern has a rather large border around it so that also adds width and length.....and if you want to make your own blanket the yarn is here and the pattern is here beautifully written out in simple instructions by Kate from Signed with an Owl. 

Until the second row!

vicki x

Saturday 15 October 2011

Is bigger always better.....or just different?

I love the fact that crochet is so most of you know knitting is my thing, but I've grown to love crochet over the past few years.  I've been crocheting for around 2 years so I tend to think I'm doing ok with it.

Anyway I did a square last night for niece no 1's will be a "one a day" project until I've got enough squares for a single bed...I'll sew as I go, because I can't stand doing all the sewing in of ends at the completion of the blanket.

Here is a pic of my's a monster compared to my Baby Bullseye square and  I've popped a button in the picture to.  The button would be the size of a 10 cent piece or a large marble.

So there you go....I think I'm going to need 35 of these guys to make a bed blanket....and then the let's see if I make an end of November finish.....You heard it here first!!

I'll keep you posted.

Vicki xx

Wednesday 12 October 2011


Things don't often stay the same forever and I've decided I need to make a few changes.  Some of you may know, I recently changed jobs....I won't go into why, but some significant changes came out of it.....

A new job that I love that gives me no responsibility other than turning up to work on time....I leave all the stuff at the door and no longer have to put up with the toxic atmosphere and management bull***t that was my previous workplace.  I work with a great bunch of people now doing a job that I'm happy to do. 

The second change was a rather large salary's amazing how you adapt to your new income. It's surprised me how much money I wasted on items I just didn't need....I've had to make a few sacrifices.....but overall I'm coping.  The rent is still being paid, I'm coping with the bills... .a bigger income certainly made things more comfortable but I think at the end of the day my personal happiness is more important than a large paycheck.

Thirdly my working day is slightly longer.....I guess the one thing I did like about my previous job was that I left the building at 5.05pm and I was generally home at new job keeps me at work to the time I get out of the building and walk the 16 minutes through the Docklands to my car....I'm not getting home till around this is where the biggest change comes in.

I am no longer going to be knitting to time in the evening is shorter and I can't get through the orders as quickly as I did previously... I just don't want to keep people waiting any longer than what I consider reasonable for a Dover & Madden hat....It was with much deliberation that I decided to finally...because it's been on the agenda before...change my business to suit MY time now....You can read about it here.  It's a big step for me, but one I think will allow me some free time, experiment a bit more, make some new items, and finally spend some me time, and rescue a few fractured family relationships!

Now the serious stuff is are some minor changes I'm going to make.

I started another one of these blankets pictured...I'd gifted two because the owner of the pattern doesn't allow the selling of finished products from her patterns which is fair enough and as a fellow crafter I respect her terms of the sale of the pattern.

So I combined my love of the alpaca border with my Baby Bullseye circles made in Cashmerino

and came up with these...

A combination of two of my favourite yarns with a pattern that I've created that I can sell....Yippeee.  This blanket will be in softer colours, more muted colours leaving out the vibrant colours....although as you can see I have included choc brown as there always needs to be spots of light and dark in a mixed colour blanket in my own opinion.

Another change is a blanket that is long overdue for Niece no 1.....after much thought I changed her blanket from a Granny Stripe that I did for her sister...Niece no 2 to a ripple blanket all inspired by Attic 24.

This blanket again is not floating my boat....I came across this blanket.

Isn't it a is courtesy of mamatoabigail as it's her blanket.  So I think Niece No 1 will love it, and it will be a bit more interesting for me to make...instead of going back and forward on a ripple, I can now go round and round in circles.

So there you go, some big changes some small, but changes all the same....I for one say "Embrace Change"

Until next time

vicki x

Sunday 9 October 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

My love of Christmas or Fruit Cake is nearly as big as my love of custard tarts (but that's another blog!)....A few years back I made my first forray into the world of the christmas cake....I did a lot of research....If I'm going to do something I'm going to do it properly.  I knew just one thing....I wanted the cake to be dark...I didn't want one of those light coloured fruit cakes.  It had to be rich, dark and full of fruit....The world of the fruit cake is a complicated one....some people add this, some people add that, everyone wants to tell you their recipe is the best...I looked at them all.  I asked a lot of questions and I did a hell of a lot of googling.

In the end I decided traditional was best.... I didn't want all those added extras like jam, dates, apricots, pecans....So with that in mind I ruled out a lot of the Jamie Olivers, Bill Grangers and Rachel Allens of this world as they were the worst culprits for popping in those things that I didn't want.  So I looked back to the Margaret Fultons and Delia Smiths of this world and Delia Smith won out....Raisins, currants, sultanas, peel and glace cherries....bit of brandy,sugar, butter, flour, eggs, nutmeg, all spice, lemon & orange zest, almonds and molasses for that deep rich colour....Simple.

Anyway to cut a long story short, the cake was a hit with everyone. We loved it and it was a talking point for some time.....our family is easily think a cake kept us all happy for so long!!  The cake went into hibernation for two one has had a cake as a gift since, and I've been asked many times to make some more christmas cakes so I thought I'd start early this year.

I made two this weekend.  The first one was a little over cooked....I was using an oven that was unfamiliar territory to was an electric fan forced fancy thing....I'm used to a gas guzzling old clonker that I know and love and it never lets me down....anyway, the second cake is perfect....and here tis.......

I'm pretty proud of it....but here are a few photos of how it came about.

I soaked all of the fruit for 24 hours prior to making the cake, you can soak it for longer and I have but it works just as well for the shorter time.

I was pretty organised this time and measured out all the ingredients first.

I won't bore you with the details, but beat sugar and butter, slowly add the eggs until whipped light and fluffy, add the flour, fruit, almonds and molasses and lemon and orange zest. and into the tin, and then decorate with blanched almonds if you desire....I personally love the almonds on top, but some people prefer to ice their cake, not me...I hate cake icing so almonds it is....a pretty pattern is required here.

The next step is quite have to line the top of the cake with silicon or baking parchment so it doesn't burn on the long slow cooking process and I also like to wrap my cake tin in brown wrapping paper so the sides of the cake are protected in the oven....reminds me of one of those dogs with the cone around his head!

Three and a half hours later....

I did cut the cake that I kept for myself....I had a sneaky piece last night with a cup of was delicious.... you can see how dark the cake is and so full of fruit....there is only 225g of flour around a cup and a bit, so not a lot of batter at all, more fruit that anything else....just how I like it.

And with a little festive ribbon it turns from a fruit cake into a christmas cake.

If you would like to make your own cake the recipe is here.  I will add fruit cakes aren't cheap to make if you buy your dried fruit from the supermarket....although I was lucky all the dried fruit was on special at Woolies.  The best thing to do is take your recipe to a market and have them measure out the exact requirements you need, then there is no wastage.... at the end of the day what are you really going to do with half a bag of mixed peel and some leftover glace cherries!!

This cake lasts forever.  You do need to keep feeding the cake, so every week you open it up from it's little bed of grease proof paper and foil and feed it....that means poke holes in it with a skewer and drizzle a bit more brandy down into the holes....keeps the cake incredibly moist and gives it that beautiful smell that is so familiar of fruit cake.

I hope you give it a the fruit mince pie, that's a challenge I want to conquer.